Circle K and Holiday Stationstores fined $200K for storage tank violations at 5 Minnesota locations

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) fined Circle K Stores Inc. and Holiday Stationstores LLC $200,000 after an investigation found that the companies violated underground gas storage tank equipment rules.

A news release from the MPCA states that the gas stations failed to properly test, report and fix or replace corrosion protection equipment between 2019 and 2022 at five stations in Northfield, Owatonna, Pine City, Rochester and Walker.

Holiday Stationstores is owned by Circle K Stores Inc.

MPCA said the cathodic protection equipment is designed to protect older underground tank systems from corrosion that can make the tanks more likely to leak.

Investigators found that each location documented between one and six failed tests that were not reported and that the faulty equipment was not repaired. The average age of the tank systems at those locations is about 40 years old.

Permit regulations require the companies to test corrosion protection equipment at least once a year, report any failed tests within 30 days then fix or replace equipment within 60 days of the failed tests.

MPCA said that a settlement agreement requires the company to spend a minimum of $3.25 million to replace underground storage tank systems at locations in Beaver Bay, Crosby, Duluth, Forest Lake and Ortonville by the end of 2024. These stations were selected because of “their proximity to nearby bodies of water and the age of their systems.”

The companies have reportedly completed the needed repairs at the first five locations and agreed to properly report and respond to any future failed tests.

A spokesperson from Circle K Stores Inc. issued the following statement:

“Since we acquired Holiday StationStores in 2017, we have worked systematically to test, monitor and at times replace and upgrade fuel storage tanks and related equipment where needed, particularly at older properties.  Although the issues with the tank systems in this matter were addressed and did not result in a release of any regulated substance to the environment, we acknowledge that the cathodic protection deficiencies noted by the MPCA were not addressed quickly enough. We accept responsibly for this and are committed to partnering with MPCA in a productive regulatory relationship going forward, as exemplified by the cooperative nature in which we have resolved this matter.”