LANSING, MI — Michigan regulators have signed a $35.2 million settlement with a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp. to pay for toxic site cleanup at dozens of gas stations where leaking underground storage tanks were discovered.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced the consent agreement on Thursday, Sept. 3.
The settlement pays for cleanup at 79 gas stations in 28 counties in the Lower Peninsula formerly owned by the Premcor Refining Group, which is owned by Valero Energy. Most of the sites are current or former Clark stations where the initial pollution was released more than 20 years ago.
Premcor previously owned the properties before transferring them to a company that later went insolvent, according to EGLE. The state will receive payments over the next year.
About $1.2 million will reimburse the state for past taxpayer-funded cleanup work at Clark stations in Battle Creek, Marshall, Albion and Holt.
Leaky underground storage tanks are a big pollution concern in Michigan and nationwide. There is a significant backlog of sites that need cleanup in Michigan, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Of the 23,663 tanks that have released contaminants in Michigan over the years, the EPA says 8,185 still require cleanup.
There are 17,709 active petroleum storage tanks in Michigan, as of March. The state’s regulatory program is overseen by the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority (MUSTA).
“This significant influx of funding from Premcor will be used to protect the public health, safety, and the environment at former Premcor sites and other sites throughout the State of Michigan,” said EGLE director Liesl Clark. “The settlement will provide important funding at a time when resources for state programs are scarce.”
Nessel called the agreement a “positive step forward for the environmental health of our state.”
The settlement doesn’t cover 51 former Premcor gas stations around the state where leaking tanks have also been found. Premcor previously operated the stations under the name Clark Refining and Marketing. Valero bought Premcor in 2005.
A message seeking comment from Valero communication staff was not immediately returned. The settlement was signed by Valero senior vice president Richard Walsh.
Valero, a Fortune 50 company based in San Antonio, Texas, operates 15 petroleum refineries and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under VLO.
Valero owns an ethanol refinery in Lenawee County near Riga.