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Published: Friday, 7/16/2010

Texas oil refiner to pay Ohio $4M for gas tank leaks

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The closed gas station at 4460 Lewis Ave. was suspected of leaking fuel in 2006 and is part of a settlement involving tank leaks. The closed gas station at 4460 Lewis Ave. was suspected of leaking fuel in 2006 and is part of a settlement involving tank leaks.
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Three Toledo sites are included in a legal settlement that will have a large oil refiner pay Ohio a record $4 million in penalties for leaking underground gas station storage tanks.

The settlement between the Premcor Refining Group Inc. and the state is the result of lawsuits filed by the Ohio attorney general in 26 counties over leaking storage tanks at 55 gas stations.

The other northwest Ohio counties included in the settlement are Wood, Seneca, and Van Wert. The penalty money will go into a state fund for environmental clean-ups, said Andy Thompson, chief of Ohio's Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations, who described the settlement as the largest in his agency's history.

The violations, many involving paperwork, date to the 1990s. The Lucas County sites are all in Toledo - at 4448 Monroe St., 4460 Lewis Ave., and 1410 Starr Ave. - and have been on the city's radar.

The Lewis address is no longer operational and was suspected of leaking fuel in 2006, said Tim Murphy, Toledo's commissioner of environmental services.

The Monroe and Starr sites "are in pretty good standing," he added.

The only Wood County site is in Bowling Green, at 333 South Main St. The violations there stemmed from a leak of 824 gallons of gasoline.

Municipal officials were aware of it and "as far as I know, it's not a current issue," city attorney Mike

Marsh said.

The tanks were all at Clark gas stations once owned by Premcor, whose corporate name was Clark Refining and Marketing Inc. prior to 2000.

Most of the stations were sold in 1999 to a new owner that assumed responsibility for cleanups related to leaking tanks, according to a statement issued by Premcor.

When that owner went bankrupt, the stations were sold again in 2003 to various buyers the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Northern Illinois stipulated were responsible for cleanups. Ohio, however, took the position that Premcor was responsible and filed its lawsuits late last year.

Premcor of San Antonio is a refiner and supplier of unbranded fuel and other petroleum products, according to Bloomberg Business Week.

It markets its products in the Midwest, Gulf Coast, and eastern and southeastern United States and is a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp., one of the country's largest gasoline retailers and refiners.

Premcor noted in its statement that it had spent millions of dollars since 2005 successfully cleaning up 37 of the Ohio sites.

The firm said it would continue to work with the state to remediate pollution at the remaining locations. Kristin Watt, the company's Columbus attorney, said she was not authorized to speak about the case.

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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