Koster files suit over underground tanks

Keith Loria Mar. 1, 2011, 2:48am


NEW MADRID, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced on Monday that he has filed a lawsuit against a man who allegedly violated the state's Underground Storage Tank law.

Glen Helmes of New Madrid allegedly endangered the health of Missourians and the environment by using underground storage tanks for storing and dispensing gasoline at the Helmes Deli in New Madrid, Mo.

Under state law, all owners and operators of petroleum underground storage tanks are required to have a financial responsibility mechanism in place so that money is available to pay for any petroleum product contamination that might result. UST insurance is available for such a purpose.

Helmes allegedly has operated without having the financial needs at the ready since June 2009. Helmes also allegedly has not installed or maintained spill catchment basins since November 2009 to prevent petroleum products from being released into the environment.

According to an agreement that was signed in January, Helmes was required to stop selling, dispensing or receiving deliveries of petroleum until he purchased UST insurance. He also would be assessed a $2,640 fine if he violated the UST law within three years of the settlement, which he allegedly did.

"Underground storage tanks that are not in compliance with the law can pose a serious health threat to Missourians," Koster said. "This legal action is necessary because the defendant failed to comply with the law through the settlement agreement, even though given ample opportunity to do so."

Koster is seeking a court order that would place a permanent injunction against the defendant requiring him to comply with the UST law. Koster also seeks a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each violation of the law.

Furthermore, Koster wants Helmes to fully comply with the terms of the original settlement, pay the $2,640 fine that was agreed to, and to pay all costs associated with the litigation.

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