EPA Rules Cost Gas Stations

At midnight Tuesday the fuel runs dry in Esparto, California.CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

Esparto's only remaining gas station will close because it hasn't upgraded underground fuel storage tanks which is required by the environmental protection agency.

What will it cost to upgrade the tanks?

"Around $50,000 for what we have to do and that's considered minor work but that's a hunk of money to a small business especially out in the country like we are," says gas statin owner Gary Ulrich.

Too much money for the owner of the Lakewood, Oregon's midtown gas station. Bob Lake can't buy new tanks so he's turning off the pumps for good after thirty years.

"I'm an independent all the major oil companies can afford to upgrade. I can't," says Lake.

Tuesday's
deadline was set ten years ago when the EPA declared all single walled tanks a threat to the nations health because they could leak.

"They've had ten years. They need to be in compliance. This is about the public's drinking water," says Carol Browner, Chief Administrator for the EPA.

Across the country procrastinators are scrambling to make the deadline, but there are still 400,000 underground tanks that have not been fixed. Even the city of Los Angeles has had to lock its pumps and will truck in fuel at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

If stations with old tanks keep pumping past the midnight deadline, they face fines of as high as $11,000 a day. The EPA begins inspections starting Wednesday.

Reported by Sandra Hughes
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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