The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has identified the source of a costly gasoline seep that leached an unknown quantity of fuel into the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River in Lander.
In a Notice of Violation filed with Maverick Inc. Friday afternoon, DEQ accused the gas station operator of failing “to make the necessary repairs to prevent overfilling the unleaded gasoline tanks,” buried near the banks of the river. In an accompanying press release the agency wrote that “Maverik overfilled one of the gasoline underground storage tanks at the facility. The overfill resulted in the release of gasoline that impacted the Popo Agie River.”
A “Red Tag Order” accompanied the NOV, barring Maverick from selling or receiving fuel at its Lander location until the problem is resolved.
The Lander Fire Department, responding to reports of a strong gasoline odor, discovered an oily sheen on the river near its Main Street underpass immediately downstream of a Maverick gas station April 2.
The EPA arrived onscene April 4 to begin trying to stanch the flow of contaminants into the navigable waterway — an ongoing endeavor that’s been hampered by fire and inclement weather. Responders from the federal agency are racing to complete a concrete barrier wall, and backfill the excavated bank, before spring runoff arrives.
The Notice of Violation notes that because it resulted from an overfill, the spill “is not eligible for cleanup under the Corrective Action Account,” and that DEQ can “seek cost recovery.” The DEQ does not yet have an estimate of how much the response has cost state and federal taxpayers, according to agency spokesman Keith Guille.
The NOV is not a “ticket”, Guille said, but rather an allegation — the agency’s official notice to the public, and to the accused violator, of what it believes caused the problem. It is the first step in what typically proceeds as a negotiation, he said. Maverick can respond with an explanation and evidence of its own. Required corrective actions, cost recovery, fines and all other elements leading to a Notice of Compliance resolution are all likewise subject to negotiation. Such discussions can land in court, Guille said, but rarely do.
WyoFile did not receive a response to requests for comment from Maverick by press time.