United States Settles Civil Environmental Case Involving Oil Spill into Sheepshead Bay
Apartment Co-operative and Management Company Agree to Pay $175,000 for Cleanup Costs
Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the filing of a Stipulation of Settlement against JONAS EQUITIES, INC. ("JONAS") and 2600 EAST 21st STREET CORPORATION ("CO-OPERATIVE"), of Brooklyn, New York, for violations of the Oil Pollution Act, 33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1321 et seq. Pursuant to the Stipulation, which was approved by the United States District Court in Brooklyn on July 25, JONAS and the COOPERATIVE have agreed to reimburse the United States $175,000 for cleanup costs for discharging a large quantity of heating oil into Sheepshead Bay.
According to the government's complaint, in September 1999, a significant amount of home heating oil was discharged into Sheepshead Bay because of a leak from the underground storage tank and boiler system of an apartment building located at 2600 East 21st Street, Brooklyn, New York. The complaint alleged that the oil from the leak filled the boiler room's sump pump, which then pumped the oil into a storm sewer line leading directly to the Bay. The spill was discovered when an unknown quantity of the heating oil created a dark-colored sheen in the Bay. The Coast Guard immediately undertook a cleanup, which lasted for 27 days. Source sampling and laboratory tests revealed a chemical match between the home heating oil samples taken from the apartment complex at 2600 East 21st Street and the discharged oil found in the Bay. The apartment complex is owned by the Co-OPERATIVE and managed by JONAS.
Under the Oil Pollution Act, the CO-OPERATIVE and JONAS are liable to the United States for the cost of the cleanup, including claims paid from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to individuals whose property was damaged by the discharge, plus interest. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a trust fund within the United States Treasury, funds cleanup efforts and other expenses related to oil pollution.
The Stipulation of Settlement with the United States requires JONAS and the COOPERATIVE to pay $175,000 to the United States for reimbursement of costs incurred by the Coast Guard and/or the Oil Spill Trust Liability Fund in responding to the discharge of oil into the Bay. The payment amount was determined after consideration of the defendants' financial condition and ability to pay the government's cleanup costs.
"Maintaining the integrity of our waters is an essential goal of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund," stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. "By recovering the funds expended by the Trust Fund, we ensure that resources will continue to be available to keep the waters of our communities free of oil pollution." Ms. Mauskopf expressed her appreciation to Lieutenant Carolyn Leonard-Cho, Esq., of the National Pollution Funds Center, United States Coast Guard, and Lieutenant Jeff Bray, Esq. of the United States Coast Guard, Office of Claims and Litigation, for their assistance in this case.
The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Nandan.
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