Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) officials announced this week the first Superior Court judicial judgment related to state leaking underground storage tank (UST) non-compliance, against William W. Arnett for violations beginning in the late 1980s at his property, 411 N. 5th Avenue in Tucson, Arizona.
While the ruling is hailed by Governor Doug Ducey’s Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), ths case “establishes, as a matter of law, that defendants in civil actions brought by ADEQ for violations of state environmental laws are not entitled to a trial by jury,” according to the agency.
Arnett will have to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties and direct costs for UST law violations beginning in the late 1980s at his property, where a UST used for storing and dispensing gasoline was located. The judgment concludes a September 2010 lawsuit filed by ADEQ and the attorney general’s office against Arnett in Maricopa County Superior Court.
ADEQ also says the case is significant because it is the “first leaking UST case to result in a Superior Court judicial judgment since the state’s UST laws were overhauled in 1997. It also “establishes that defendants cannot misrepresent the true owner of a UST to block ADEQ from seeking sanctions against that owner at a later date.”
ADEQ alleges that because the “UST owner and operator were uncooperative, ADEQ stepped in and performed the necessary cleanup of Arnett’s gasoline leak to subsurface soil and groundwater to protect public health and the City of Tucson’s drinking water supply. ADEQ’s cleanup work began in October 2012, and was completed in April 2014.”