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MADISON - U.S. Oil Company, Inc., of Combined Locks, is being sued by the Wisconsin Department of Justice for allegedly violating state air pollution control laws at petroleum bulk storage tanks its operates in Milwaukee, Brown and Dane Counties. The suit was filed today in Dane County Circuit Court according to Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen.


According to the complaint, filed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Oil's fuel storage terminals emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are air contaminants under state law. The Milwaukee facility and one of the Green Bay terminals are considered major sources of VOC emissions as the potential VOC emissions at each of these facilities are greater than 100 tons/year.


The company's permits and state regulations require that it conduct regular inspections of the roofs and seals on the tanks to make sure they are not leaking VOC's into the air. According to the complaint, U.S. Oil failed to conduct the required inspections on numerous occasions, and failed to report deficiencies to DNR and correct them in a timely fashion when they were identified. The complaint also alleges that U.S. Oil failed to conduct timely tests of the emissions from its truck loading operation in Green Bay, which were found to be unlawfully high when the required test was conducted. Also alleged in the complaint is that the company failed to maintain a white surface on one of its Milwaukee tanks, as required by state regulations. White surfaces are designed to prevent excessive temperature and vapor pressure increases, which in turn may exacerbate VOC leaks.


"The DNR is charged with making sure the laws and regulations that protect our air are followed," Van Hollen said. "Where individuals and businesses are engaged in activities that may produce significant emissions of volatile organic compounds, air pollution control laws and regulations must be followed. DOJ works with DNR to enforce the law and prosecute violators."


In addition to corrective actions, many of which have already been implemented by the company, the State is seeking penalties for the violations alleged in the complaint.


The State is being represented by Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson.