Tigards 76 X-Press replaces faulty nozzles leaking harmful fumes

A Tigard gas station has been fined more than $1,500 after faulty nozzles and hoses released harmful gasoline vapors into the air.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a fine on Monday to 76 X-Press gas station, 12825 S.W. Pacific Highway, saying the company failed to maintain a properly working vapor control system at its pumps.

Johnny Baumgartner, an inspector with DEQ’s air quality program, said the station was releasing very small quantities of the pollutants through faulty nozzles and hoses at one of its pumps, in violation of its permit.

“If they were using those hoses, the more they use them, the more vapors leak out of them where the hoses were split,” he said.

The gas station operates under a permit that regulates contaminants the company releases into the air, including gasoline vapors, which contain harmful pollutants such as benzene, which has been linked to causing certain types of cancers such as leukemia, Baumgartner said.

“There is a chance of possible exposure if they are releasing vapors under a long enough period of time,” Baumgartner said.

Gas stations need vapor-tight seals to limit vapor exposure, Baumgartner added.

“The particular problem at this site was that a couple of hoses were split and leaking vapors,” Baumgartner said.

The company was given a warning in July and told to replace the hoses. But when Baumgartner returned a month later, the equipment had not been replaced.

Officials at 76 X-press said the company could not afford to replace the faulty hoses and nozzles in July and waited until it had enough money to complete the necessary repairs.

“(The company makes) five cents for each gallon sold,” one employee told The Times. “You do the math about how long it will take to replace a hose. It’s almost one day’s worth of gross profit.”

Employees said the nozzles in question were not being used, and posted signs told employees not to use them.

Employees said DEQ required that the faulty nozzles and hoses be replaced by Nov. 19, regardless of whether or not they were used.

In total, the gas station has spent about $3,000 to replace the faulty equipment.

Since the fine was issued, the hoses have been replaced, and the gas station is now back in compliance, Baumgartner said.

“Hopefully this fine will actually get their attention, so they pay attention of the maintenance of their equipment a bit better,” Baumgartner said.

DEQ also cited 76 X-Press for failing to have a copy of its air contaminant discharge permit at its facility, but no fine was issued.

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