Taxpayers May Bear Burden Of Leaking Storage Tanks

September 04, 2013

A new report warns Arizona taxpayers could be on the hook for cleaning up leaking underground storage tanks because of shortcomings by a state agency.

An Auditor General's report found the Department of Environmental Quality has no way to prove many people with the tanks have the required insurance to cover leaks. The report says proof is lacking in a third of the cases, and the gas tax that has covered the costs is expiring in 2015. DEQ Director Henry Darwin acknowledges the problem but says he can't do much to solve it.

“I could send out a thousand letters tomorrow, but that's not going to do us any good,” Darwin said. “They're going to get the letter and they're going to look at it, and they're probably going to tear it up and throw it in the garbage.”

Henry says fines won't do much, because people with the tanks say they don't have the money to buy the insurance. He says DEQ is working with tank owners to find affordable coverage to meet the legal requirement.

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