State files suit over Homer cleanup

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The state of Alaska has filed a lawsuit against a Utah couple and their company for failing to clean up gasoline contamination in Homer, state environmental officials said Monday.

The Attorney General's Office filed the civil suit to ensure that the spill site at the former Trailside General Store in Homer is cleaned up in a timely manner, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court, is against the Wyoming Alaska Co. and company officials Reuel T. Call and Bonita Blunk of Centerville, Utah. The spill occurred in April 1999 when underground storage tanks at the convenience store and gasoline station leaked a large amount of fuel.

The state earlier filed criminal charges against the company and Blunk. A plea agreement was reached in February in which the company paid a $20,000 fine and agreed to clean up the site.

However, the company has failed to follow through on the clean up plan, which was approved by DEC in January, state officials said. After removing the leaking tanks and excavating contaminated soil, the clean up came to a standstill in April and the company stopped paying its environmental contractors. It also let lapse its pollution insurance policy, which would have paid for the clean up, DEC said.

The civil suit asks the court to require the company, Call and Blunk to clean up the site this summer under a court-supervised schedule and establish an escrow account to ensure that the necessary funding is available. The state also is seeking fines.

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