Gas station’s appeal of fine to be ruled on Thursday |

Gas station’s appeal of fine to be ruled on Thursday

Andy Bourelle

Whether a Meyers gas station will have to pay an $84,000 fine for leaking gasoline and its controversial additive MTBE into the groundwater will be determined Thursday night.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will hear the appeal of the J.E. Tveten Corporation, which owns the Beacon gas station in Meyers, at the Lake Tahoe Community College Theater at 7 p.m.

The regional board issued an $84,000 fine against the J.E. Tveten Corporation July 17 for the corporation’s failure to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater from a leaking underground fuel tank.

Tveten appealed, and the Aug. 6 board meeting will determine if the fine will remain in effect.

Lahontan Regional Quality Control Board Associate Engineering Geologist Lisa Dernbach said, if the board approves the fine, the corporation still could appeal to the California Water Quality Control Board, of which the regional board is a branch.

Dernbach said the regional board also has the authority to adjust the fine.

In March, the regional board ordered Tveten to identify the extent of the contamination caused by leaking MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – and begin cleanup by the end of May. On July 16, Tveten had failed to begin cleanup and became liable for up to $420,000 in fines.

The $84,000 was determined by the number of days Tveten had been out of compliance. Dernbach said Tveten still is out of compliance to the order and could face additional fines.

The leaking MTBE from the Meyer’s Beacon led to the Tahoe Public Utility District shutting down two area wells – Arrowhead No. 1 and No. 2.

MTBE is an oxygen-rich gasoline additive, and research is ongoing throughout the nation on its potential health affects. However, it is known MTBE has an unpleasant taste and odor – similar to turpentine – that makes it undrinkable.

Seven of STPUD’s 34 wells have been shut down as a precaution because of traces of MTBE found in the vicinity of the wells.

Dernbach said there will be a public comment session at the start of Thursday’s meeting where members of the community will have the opportunity to address any water quality issues relating to the regional board.

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