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Goodhue company fined $80,000 by MPCA

An excavation company located just north of the city of Goodhue has been fined $80,000 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for its use of an old underground fuel tank.

Fitzgerald Excavating and Trucking in Goodhue, owned by Jason Fitzgerald, earned the fine after it was discovered the company had buried a used 12,000-gallon fuel tank that had previously belonged to a gas station and used it to purchase bulk fuel for his vehicles, said Cathy Rofshus, a spokeswoman for the MPCA.

The 30-year-old tank posed a high risk of leaking and was prohibited from being reused, the MPCA stated. Furthermore, Fitzgerald installed the tank himself instead of using a licensed tank contractor. In an effort to hide the violations from the MPCA, he buried the tank, poured a concrete pad over it, He then placed several 1,000-gallon above-ground tanks as decoys on top the pad.

"He had it all set up to look like he was using those above-ground tanks for fueling," Rofshus said. The above-ground tanks are exempt from state regulations.

Rofshus said on Sept. 24, 2015, MPCA compliance officers went to the site to inspect several aspects of the facility. While there, they noticed the above-ground tanks were empty. At that point, the officers began to notice other irregularities with the set up of Fitzgerald's fuel system.

The officers realized the above-ground tanks were not functional. While Fitzgerald told the officers he fueled his vehicles either in Red Wing or Zumbrota, pooled fuel on the site led the officers to investigate further.

Eventually, they found a modified tool box that had been placed over the the fill-pipes for the underground tank. Vent pipes for the underground tank were located within hollow posts disguised as load-bearing beams for the fuel area.

"He's removed the tank himself," Rofshus said. Just as in the installation of the underground tank, the removal of the tank — which had no leak detection, corrosion protection, or spill or overfill protection — was not done by an MPCA-certified tank contractor.

In addition to the $80,000 fine, the company must take several corrective actions including properly dispose of ash and solid waste stored at the Goodhue facility; stop storing, disposing of, and burning waste materials; and submit a plan for managing waste to the MPCA for approval.

The company, which provides demolition, excavating, tiling and septic-installing services, has been in trouble with the MPCA before, Rofshus said. In 2009, the MPCA fined Fitzgerald $10,000 for violations in solid waste and installing on-site sewage-treatment systems. The company was also ordered to perform $10,000 worth of environmental labor for the county.

Rofshus said that the fine is meant to be in order with what the company may have benefited from its illegal activities, but it's quite possible that by purchasing fuel at bulk rates, they might have saved more than $80,000 from their activities.

In Minnesota, the MPCA said, there are about 18,000 regulated underground storage tanks in use. The MPCA's Underground Storage Tank Program helps to prevent contamination from leaking tanks by focusing on technical assistance and compliance.

Source of article click here : POST BULLETIN

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