Gas station owner files suit agains former supplier |

Gas station owner files suit agains former supplier

by Sheila Gardner

Minden Beacon owner Dave Mills filed suit Friday against his former gasoline supplier, accusing the company of installing faulty equipment which started a chain of events that led to a leak and expensive cleanup of the controversial fuel additive MTBE.

The suit asks for reimbursement for Mills and his wife Kathy of approximately $400,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. The suit also seeks damages in excess of $300,000.

The suit also names Apex Envirotech, Inc., an environmental cleanup company Mills hired after the methyl tertiary butyl ether leak was discovered. The Mills claim that Apex didn’t disclose past associations with the gasoline supplier, Toms Sierra Nevada of Colfax, Calif., and made the leak appear worse than it was.

Mills contracted with Toms Sierra to install a used gasoline blender that would enable the Minden Beacon station to double storage of unleaded gasoline to 19,000 gallons by converting an extra tank to unleaded. The valve was installed in December 1996.

According to a 28-page complaint filed by Gardnerville attorney Noel Manoukian, the blender contained faulty and defective equipment which led to the leak that has threatened the Minden Town water supply. No trace of the additive has been detected. Minden’s oldest town well was shut off three years ago and is being tested this week to determine if any contamination reached the water, or if the well can be put back in service.

The Mills’ expenses have totaled $289,728 so far, with an estimated cost of $150,000 to monitor the ongoing cleanup. If the Mills were forced to replace the town’s well, that cost is estimated at $2.5 million, according to the suit.

The Mills also claim that Apex had a conflict of interest by not disclosing past associations with Toms Sierra Nevada and engaged in racketeering by improper and deceptive billing practices, erroneous cost projections and improper cleanup methods.

The Mills were further damaged by loss of business, sales, profits, damaged reputation and medical problems and emotional distress, they contend.