Cave Rock station working on clean-up plan
Despite several months of not following state requirements, the owner of the Cave Rock Country Store is proceeding with efforts to clean up gasoline contamination at the site.
A lawsuit against him for past violations continues to move forward.
“Things have been moving forward quite rapidly in terms of meeting the requirements,” said Bob Kelso, supervisor of the remediation branch of the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection. “Things have been laid out. We’re getting the information now to make decisions on the next steps, where to go from here. I feel comfortable in saying things are going well.”
Robert Hager, who owns and leases out the Cave Rock convenience store, has completed monitoring of the contamination plume and submitted a site characterization plan, which reveals how big the contaminant plume is and the extent of the problem it has caused. A clean-up plan is expected by Friday.
Hager has been in compliance with state orders since February. That wasn’t always the case.
Last year, the underground fuel tanks at the site were removed, and NDEP found evidence in the soil of gasoline compounds, including MTBE and benzene. A site characterization plan was originally due in August 1998. That didn’t happen, and, acting on behalf of NDEP, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in December 1998 filed a complaint in Douglas County District Court against Hager.
The complaint had two parts. One was a motion for injunction, which would have allowed NDEP to take over the clean-up. However, since Hager has complied with requests for the past two months, NDEP’s intervention wasn’t needed.
The other part of the complaint, however, is a civil suit.
The complaint alleges that as early as January 1997, Hager knew – or should have known – that one of the underground tanks was leaking. He never reported any problems to NDEP, which he is required by law to do. Hager is accused of violating Nevada water pollution control laws and hazardous materials storage tanks laws. NDEP is requesting the maximum civil penalty of $25,000 a day for each day of the violation for the former regulation and $5,000 for each day of the latter. That could equate to several million dollars.
Charles Meredith, deputy attorney general, said the suit could go to trial as early as November.
Two nearby residential wells were contaminated and alternative sources of drinking water are being used. Contamination has been detected in nearby Lincoln Creek, which runs into Lake Tahoe, as well as the shore near the lake. Tests for contamination in the lake itself, at that site, have come back negative.
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