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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2004

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

DEP BEGINS EFFORT TO REDUCE LEAKING TANKS
THROUGH COMPLIANCE INSPECTION PROGRAM

(04/96) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell announced the start of a new, enhanced statewide underground storage tank compliance inspection program to prevent pollution by reducing the number of leaking tanks.

"Performing comprehensive underground storage tank inspections will protect our ground water resources from gasoline and other contamination," said Commissioner Campbell. "Millions of New Jersey residents get their drinking water from aquifers that are vulnerable to pollution from leaking tanks. New Jersey was long overdue for a more effective leak prevention program for underground tanks, but this has changed with the state making new funding available."

In November 2003, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a public referendum Governor McGreevey requested to provide DEP a stable funding source of up to $2 million annually to create an underground storage tank inspection program.

In New Jersey, there are more than 22,000 regulated underground storage tanks at about 8,000 facilities. DEP is establishing a group of 18 state and county inspectors to conduct compliance inspections at each facility once every three years. Owners and operators of underground storage tanks also must register their tank systems with DEP on a three-year cycle. Testing and cleanup work is underway by responsible parties at more than 4,000 sites statewide where underground storage tanks have leaked resulting in soil or ground water contamination.

In past years, state underground storage tank inspections were conducted on the basis of complaints or referrals to DEP's Site Remediation Program. In addition, some county health agencies conducted inspections and were reimbursed through the DEP's County Environmental Health Act program using state Spill Fund monies. In 2003, 12 counties performed some inspections in addition to targeted DEP actions that overall resulted in 781 inspections statewide.

DEP initially plans to fund nine county inspectors and provide training and other assistance, including specialized equipment to properly inspect underground storage tanks. DEP also is hiring nine state inspectors to conduct compliance and inspection activities out of three state field offices, including oversight and assistance to county partners.

DEP provides compliance assistance to owners and operators of facilities with underground storage tank systems. State and federal laws require all owners and operators to maintain leak detection, corrosion and overfill prevention and other measures to prevent tank leaks. DEP also will track all inspections and enforcement actions taken when responsible parties fail to comply with relevant laws.

Two other significant operational compliance violations that are being targeted include operators and fuel transporters that disable or defeat tank system overfill devices, and fuel transporters that place fuel into tanks lacking a valid registration certificate.

Defeating an overfill prevention device may cause a sudden release of flammable liquid into the surrounding environment. Placing fuel into unregistered or improperly registered tanks also risks a release to the environment as the tanks could be substandard or being operated improperly.

The following are examples of enforcement actions that have already been issued:

  • On May 20, 2004, DEP issued D'Angelo Investment Group, LLC (owner) and Diwan Singh dba Rt. 47 Highway Citgo (operator since September 29, 2003) an Administrative Order and Notice of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment in the amount of $15,000 for violations at a commercial gas station located at Block 1438, Lots 4.01, 4.02, 4.03, 4.04, 5 and 9, Rt. 47, Wildwood, Cape May County, New Jersey.

  • On May 14, 2004, DEP issued Singin Oil (operator), Baris Alkoc (owner) and Suleyman Alkoc (owner) an Administrative Order and Notice of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment in the amount of $15,000 for violations at a commercial gas station located at 149 Lower Main Street in Aberdeen Township, Monmouth County.

  • On March 19, 2004, DEP issued Tarlok Singh dba Super US Gas (owner and operator) an Administrative Order and Notice of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment in the amount of $15,000 for violations at a commercial gas station located at Block 538, Lot 1, 271 South Delsea Drive, Vineland, Cumberland County, New Jersey.

  • A large-scale investigation targeted six gas stations in Passaic, Essex and Bergen counties owned and operated under several different corporate names but tied to one responsible party, AB Trading Enterprises. During the course of the investigation three of the six sites were closed. One of those six remains shut because of substandard tank systems that need replacement. On August 11, 2003, a Superior Court judge ordered AB Trading to pay DEP a $200,000 penalty to settle all violations at the six sites. DEP has received more than $100,000 to date from this penalty with the remainder being paid over time with interest.

 

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