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Farm Press Release

For immediate release - Tuesday, November 14, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Court Orders Wunschel Oil to Let DNR Clean Up Petroleum Contamination Site in Ida Grove.

The Ida County District Court has granted a request by Attorney General Tom Miller for a temporary injunction against Wunschel Oil Co. and Vernus and Jacquelyn Wunschel of Ida Grove, ordering the Wunschels immediately to allow access by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and its representatives to the Wunschel Oil property in order to remove significant amounts of petroleum contamination of the land and groundwater at the site.

The order also prohibits the Wunschels from refusing DNR entry to the property, and orders the Wunschels not "to harass, obstruct, or otherwise interfere in any way" with the activities of DNR representatives on the property.

"We are pleased to obtain this ruling so the clean-up can proceed," Miller said.

Miller filed suit September 1 on behalf of the DNR, seeking a temporary injunction against the Wunschels in order to abate and remove an alleged hazardous condition and public nuisance at the Wunschel service station and bulk plant located in Ida Grove. The State brought the action after the Wunschels refused access to the State to operate its remediation system for removal of petroleum contamination on the property.

The temporary injunction order came after a two-day hearing in the Ida County District Court in October. At the hearing, the State presented evidence that since 1998 it had removed thousands of gallons of gasoline from the ground at the Wunschel property, which is within 200 feet of the primary drinking water well for the City of Ida Grove. The State also presented evidence that water samples showed that levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen, at the Wunschel property were thousands of times greater than levels considered safe for human contact.

The suit alleged that the petroleum contamination potentially endangers the nearby Ida Grove city drinking water well. If the petroleum product were to migrate and break through a clay soil layer under the site, the suit alleged, the product could be drawn into one of the city's wells.

District Court Judge Mary Jane Sokolovske ruled that the State was entitled to an injunction against the Wunschels because contamination at the Wunschel property could cause irreparable harm or injury by endangering the health of the citizens in Ida Grove if it was allowed to reach the City's water supply, water lines and sewers. The Court order was filed November 7 and was received late Monday by the Attorney General's Office.

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