Circle K Stores and Holiday fined $200,000 for gas storage tank violations

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Holiday Stationstores and Circle K Stores must pay a $200,000 fine and spend more than $3.25 million to upgrade equipment after being found guilty of violations by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

MPCA officials say the fine was levied after an enforcement investigation found that Holiday, based in Bloomington, and Circle K, based in Charlotte, N.C., failed to properly “test, report and fix or replace corrosion protection equipment between 2019 and 2022 at five Minnesota gas station convenience stores owned by the companies,” according to a press release. The stores are located in Northfield, Owatonna, Pine City, Rochester and Walker, according to the MPCA.

The equipment, known as cathodic protection, is designed to protect older underground tank systems from corrosion that can increase the chance of leaks and petroleum releases to area soils and groundwater sources, according to the MPCA.

Operating permits granted by the MPCA require companies to test the equipment at least annually, report failed tests to the MPCA within 30 days and fix or replace equipment within 60 days of failed tests.

According to the MPCA, inspections in 2022 confirmed that “each location documented between one and six failed tests that were not reported and that the equipment was not repaired.”

The faulty storage tank systems at all five locations – which had an average age of about 40 years – have since been repaired or replaced, MPCA officials say. Company officials also have agreed to properly report and respond to any future failed tests.

In addition to paying the $200,000 civil penalty, a settlement agreement requires the companies to spend a minimum of $3.25 million to replace underground tank systems at five other locations – Forest Lake, Beaver Bay, Crosby, Duluth and Ortonville – by the end of 2024.

MPCA officials selected the five other locations “based on their proximity to nearby bodies of water and the age of their systems,” the press release states.

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