Our firm has reviewed and filed a number of cases involving leaking underground storage tank systems. Thousands of underground tanks containing gasoline, oil and other potentially toxic petroleum products are located at service stations throughout the state of Alabama. Over time, these underground storage tank systems can erode and develop leaks if they are not properly maintained, monitored, and replaced periodically. When these systems leak, petroleum contaminants can migrate through the soil and groundwater and damage private property or even harm nearby residents.
Our firm is currently working on a case in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, that provides an excellent example of just how devastating an underground storage tank leak can be. In January of last year, Allen Oil Company notified the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) that its Allen’s Food Mart store in Alexander City had suffered a significant gasoline leak. When ADEM and emergency response officials arrived at the scene, they learned that over 54,000 gallons of gasoline had been released into the environment. Not only did the gasoline saturate our clients’ property, located downhill from Allen’s Food Mart but it also impacted Sugar Creek, which flows directly into Lake Martin.
In order to try to curb the flow of gasoline into Sugar Creek and Lake Martin, ADEM directed emergency responders to dig an extensive network of trenches and erect other artificial barriers on our clients’ property. While these activities reduced the level of gasoline contaminants entering the creek, our clients’ property was completely devastated in the process. As a result, land that our clients and their families had owned for years was rendered completely worthless.
Unfortunately, underground storage tank leaks are not an isolated occurrence in Alabama. In fact, ADEM has over one thousand active underground storage tank leak sites currently under investigation throughout the state. In nearly every instance, those leaks could have been avoided with just a little bit of effort and preventive maintenance on the part of tank owners. Hopefully though, cases like this one will remind gas station tank owners that their right to sell gasoline in Alabama comes with a responsibility to protect the property and health of their neighbors. If you need additional information on anything mentioned above, contact Alyce Roberston or Chris Boutwell with our firm at 800-898-2034.
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