Deadline was Tuesday for gas tank upgrades |

Deadline was Tuesday for gas tank upgrades

Andy Bourelle

Thousands of gas stations in the country are expected to stop selling gasoline today after a government deadline for replacing or upgrading underground storage tank systems went into effect Tuesday. But while some South Shore gas stations will have to shut down temporarily, the overall impact to South Shore residents will be minimal, according to Ginger Huber, Tahoe division manager for El Dorado County Environmental Management.

“There will not be any problem purchasing gas in South Lake Tahoe,” she said.

Owners of underground storage tanks had until Tuesday to upgrade their systems to meet current requirements. The regulation requiring this was adopted 10 years ago.

Owners of tanks are required by law to display an upgrade certificate in a window or other prominent locations and to attach upgrade certificate tags to tanks’ fill pipes. The certificates are available only to complying agencies, and after Jan. 1, fuel deliveries will not be permitted to tanks that do not meet the standards.

El Dorado County Environmental Management is responsible for enforcement of the regulations, and owners who continue to operate non-upgraded systems starting today may be fined $500 to $5,000 per tank, per day of violation.

As of Tuesday afternoon, El Dorado County had issued certificates to 19 of 37 facilities in El Dorado County’s portion of the Tahoe Basin. However, she expected more to be completed by the end of the day.

“We anticipate being quite busy today with the final inspections at the facilities that are in the process of upgrading,” Huber said Tuesday.

Several gas stations, such as the Swiss Mart on Emerald Bay Road, are completing major upgrades and will not be in operation for several weeks. Other facilities – including tanks belonging to the city of South Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Sugar Pine Point State Park and Lakeside Marina – will close either permanently or complete the upgrades in the spring.

An estimated 20,000 gas stations nationwide are expected to stop selling fuel today after missing the deadline, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The regulations affect all businesses and institutions with underground fuel tanks and are aimed at preventing spills and leaks that can contaminate groundwater. Since 1988, the EPA has recorded 329,940 leaks nationwide from underground storage tank systems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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