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EPA-New York/New Jersey Inspections Of Underground Storage Tanks Finds Poor Compliance With Federal Leak Detection Rules

Release Date: 07/18/1997
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(#97100) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Inspectors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states swept through New York and New Jersey this May as part of a nationwide initiative to find violations of federal leak detection requirements at underground storage tank (UST) facilities that went into effect in 1993. In New Jersey, nearly half the facilities (26 out of 54) checked were in violation of the government requirements. In New York, 39% (68 out of 173) failed. The national non-compliance rate is 38%.

EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox expressed concern about the findings saying, "Leaks from underground storage tanks are the most common source of groundwater contamination and petroleum is the most common contaminant we find. A leak of just a gallon of petroleum from just one tank can contaminate one million gallons of groundwater used for drinking water. Many areas of New Jersey and New York rely exclusively on groundwater as a public drinking water source. Leak detection can help prevent a bear of a problem from getting loose in the environment. Groundwater contamination takes years to fix and is very expensive," Ms. Fox explained.

Most of the inspected facilities are privately owned, but some are owned by federal, state or local government agencies. The owners against whom enforcement actions were taken are expected to install release detection monitoring systems and keep records in accordance with state and federal requirements.

During the May enforcement sweep, inspectors also reminded owners and operators of USTs installed before 1988 that they have less than two years remaining in which to comply with requirements designed to prevent future leaks that will take effect in December 1998. EPA recently announced that the Agency will not extend the December 1998 deadline. Owners of USTs installed after December 1988 had to meet these requirements when the tanks were installed. Owners and operators of the older USTs will need to replace or upgrade their tanks to meet the requirements or close them properly.

The 1998 UST requirements are a key element in the ongoing EPA-state effort to prevent groundwater contamination. For more detailed information, tank owners/operators should contact the New York Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 457-4351 or the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at (609) 292-8761.

Some recent examples of EPA and state underground storage tank enforcement actions in the region include:

* EPA issued a consent order under which New Jersey Transit Bus Operations, Inc. agreed to pay a civil penalty of $130,000 for violations of UST requirements and--as a supplemental environmental project--to remove asbestos insulation from pipes and joints at two bus operations facilities.

* The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a Notice of Violation/Offer of Settlement to the Shell Oil Company regarding a Shell service station in Ridgewood. A release from the facility has affected Ridgewood's water supply wells. A $30,000 penalty was proposed.

* EPA issued an administrative complaint against the Rhein Cheme Corporation in Trenton, New Jersey with a proposed penalty of $15,947.

* EPA issued a field citation to the Village of Rotterdam, New York assessing a $300 fine for failure to provide adequate leak detection of their UST.

For more information contact:
Richard Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: