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Court Issues $300,000 Penalty Against Buy Rite of Brooklyn, NY for Violating EPA Underground Storage Tank Regs

Release Date: 06/05/2002
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(#02055) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the U.S. District Court issued an Order and Judgement of Default at EPA’s request against Buy Rite Garage, Inc., Buy Rite Garage, Inc., Buy Rite Fuel Oil Corporation (Buy Rite) and Dennis Firpo for violating federal regulations that require owners and operators of facilities that have underground storage tanks systems to upgrade them and install leak detection equipment. In addition, Buy Rite and Mr. Firpo have been ordered by the Court to comply with the regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that protect the public from leakage from these tanks which store hazardous substances such as petroleum products. Buy Rite and Mr. Firpo must now also pay a $300,000 penalty.

“Buy Rite’s tanks store thousands of gallons of petroleum products. They have a history of failing to comply with the EPA regulations for upgrading the tanks and having release detection systems in place, “said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “We continue to work hard to get these outdated tanks closed,” continued Ms. Kenny, “and I hope that Buy Rite and Mr. Firpo do what we require to protect their employees and the community’s citizens, soil and ground water.”

Buy Rite and Mr. Firpo are required to close ten of the fourteen underground tanks at their facility located at 1188 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, and to either close or upgrade four other tanks located at the site. Buy Rite and Mr. Firpo must conduct an assessment of the site and if contaminated soils, contaminated ground water and/or petroleum or other hazardous products as liquid or vapor are discovered, they are required to initiate corrective action measures. They must also provide leak detection and monitoring systems for all the tanks located at the facility, monitor the underground piping and maintain records demonstrating their compliance with federal regulations.

For more than seven years Buy Rite failed to comply with regulations concerning release detection and record keeping regarding its efforts to prevent releases from occurring. Buy Rite’s Brooklyn site has an underground system that stores thousands of gallons of petroleum products: ten 550-gallon tanks, and four with capacities ranging from 1080 to 4000 gallons. The court order requires Buy Rite to close the ten 550-gallon tanks in compliance with federal, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and local requirements. They must close or upgrade the four larger tanks and conduct an assessment of the entire site to determine if any of the tanks released petroleum products and the extent of those releases. The order further requires that Buy-Rite monitor all tanks at the facility and provide release detection for the tanks and piping systems.

Leaking underground tanks pose a threat to ground water and soil. Underground storage tanks range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons, and are used to store gasoline, diesel, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, government facilities and large industrial sites. Leaks from tanks often contaminate the soil around the tanks, and can cause unhealthy gasoline vapors to settle into the basements of private homes and apartment buildings.

Underground storage tanks have historically been the nation’s number-one source of ground water contamination, with over 30,000 leaks and spills from tanks reported annually. EPA and states’ underground storage tank regulations were put in place to prevent releases of petroleum, and, if a release does occur, to insure that it is addressed immediately.

The EPA regulations requiring underground storage tank upgrading took effect in December, 1998. The regulations require owners and operators to clean up contaminated sites, in order to restore and protect groundwater resources, and provide a safe environment for those who live or work around these sites. Petroleum releases can contaminate water making it unsafe or unpleasant to drink. Releases can also result in fire and explosion hazards and produce short and long-term health effects.