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News release

December 12, 2023


Stephen Mikkelson, 218-316-3887,

Circle K Stores Inc. and Holiday Stationstores LLC fined $200,000 for storage tank violations at five Minnesota locations

Enforcement action also requires $3.25 million toward environmental projects

According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Circle K Stores Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., and Holiday Stationstores LLC of Bloomington, Minnesota, failed to properly test, report, and fix or replace corrosion protection equipment between 2019 and 2022 at five Minnesota gas station convenience stores owned by the companies. The stores are located in Northfield, Owatonna, Pine City, Rochester, and Walker.

The equipment, known as cathodic protection, is designed to protect older underground tank systems from corrosion that can increase the chance of leaks and petroleum releases to area soils and groundwater sources. The average age of the underground tank systems at these locations is about 40 years. Operating permits require the company to test corrosion protection equipment at least annually, report failed tests to the MPCA within 30 days, and fix or replace equipment within 60 days of failed tests.

MPCA staff inspections in 2022 confirmed that each location documented between one and six failed tests that were not reported and that the equipment was not repaired.

In addition to paying the $200,000 civil penalty, a settlement agreement requires the companies to spend a minimum of $3.25 million to replace underground tank systems at five other locations, including Beaver Bay, Crosby, Duluth, Forest Lake, and Ortonville, by the end of 2024. The MPCA selected these locations based on their proximity to nearby bodies of water and the age of their systems. The companies have completed needed repairs or replacement of corrosion protection equipment at all five locations where violations occurred and agree to properly report and respond to any future failed tests. 

MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment. 

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. 

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