United States Announces $475,000 Penalty in Settlement of Claims That Defendants Violated Federal Leak Prevention Requirements at Seven New York City Gas Stations
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Judith Enck, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, today announced the settlement in a federal civil environmental case concerning violations by 15 defendants of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at seven gas stations that they have owned or operated in New York City. The violations involve over 40 underground storage tanks, which typically contain large quantities of gasoline and waste oil and can cause serious environmental damage if allowed to leak.
This is the fourth and final settlement reached in this case against Citygas Gasoline Corporation and 45 other defendants, which encompasses 24 facilities, and 114 underground storage tanks. Including today’s settlement, the total civil penalties due under the four settlements is $2,300,000, and the total compliance and remedial measures have an estimated value of $1,273,000. Compliance with RCRA’s underground storage tank requirements is vital to ensure the integrity of tanks, to prevent the release of petroleum product to soil and groundwater, and to ensure that clean-up monies would be available in the event of an accidental release.
Today’s settlement resolves EPA’s claims against Richard Finkelstein and 14 corporate entities of which he was the sole owner (Finkelstein Entities) for violations of RCRA at seven gas stations that the Finkelstein Entities owned and/or operated. According to the amended complaint, the Finkelstein Entities failed to comply with RCRA’s requirements for release detection, corrosion protection, investigation of possible spills, and financial responsibility. The amended complaint also alleges that Richard Finkelstein failed to comply with RCRA’s requirements for cooperating with EPA by failing to provide information about the underground storage tanks that the Finkelstein Entities owned or operated..
As part of the settlement, defendants have agreed to pay a $475,000 civil monetary penalty to the federal government. The Finkelstein Entities have also undertaken measures valued at approximately $192,000 to come into compliance with RCRA. The Finkelstein Entities have committed to remain in compliance in the future at the three gas stations that they continue to own or operate and to submit regular reports to EPA to demonstrate that they are in compliance with release detection, corrosion protection, financial responsibility, and other RCRA requirements. These future compliance measures are estimated to cost approximately $239,000. The settlement provides for penalties for noncompliance with these provisions.
“The federal environmental laws in issue here serve to protect our water, our environment, and our citizens from risk of contamination from gasoline and waste oil. The defendants failed to take all the necessary steps to prevent or detect releases from their underground storage tanks. These failures put the people and environment in and around New York City at an unacceptable risk,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Today’s settlement, which imposes substantial obligations on defendants including compliance with the requirements of RCRA and a substantial civil penalty, should serve to deter such actions in the future by these defendants and others who seek to evade their legal obligations.”
EPA Regional Administrator Enck stated, “Gas station owners need to be vigilant in making sure that their petroleum storage tanks do not cause pollution. When underground tanks are not properly maintained, people’s health and the environment are put at risk.”
The settlement was subject to a 30-day public comment period, during which no comments were received. The settlement is conditioned upon approval by the United States District Court before becoming final.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sandra L. Levy. EPA was represented by Assistant Regional Counsel Naomi Shapiro.
Defendants Covered by the Consent Judgment:
Tijuana Enterprises, Inc.
One More Gasoline Company, Inc.
E.D. Fuels, LLC
Enkido Gasoline Corporation
Satin Ventures, Inc.
Eden Equities, Inc.
Slingshot Gasoline, Inc.
Stop Enterprise, Inc.
Whitestone Gasoline, Inc.
Java Gasoline, Inc.
BBZZ Equities, Inc.
21st Century Fuel, LLC
A Penny Less Gasoline, Inc.
46 Fuels, LLC
Facilities Covered by the Consent Judgment:
17-46 Clintonville Street, Whitestone, New York
880 Garrison Avenue, Bronx, New York
1945 Bartow Avenue, Bronx, New York
83-10 Astoria Boulevard, Jackson Heights, New York
141-50 Union Turnpike, Flushing, New York
2800 Bruckner Boulevard, Bronx, New York
1508 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
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