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U.S. Attorney and EPA Charge Owner of 240 Underground Storage Tanks in NYC With Multiple Violations Of Environmental Law; Improper Management Posed Threat To Neighborhoods, Environment

Release Date: 12/02/1998
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(#98162) New York, N.Y. -- Today, Zachary W. Carter, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, and Jeanne M. Fox, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, announced the filing of a civil environmental case against Cary Wolf, the owner of several New York City-based corporations, for mismanaging hundreds of underground storage tanks (USTs) and creating a risk of groundwater and soil contamination.

Wolf owns 10 companies that own a total of 240 underground storage tanks at 32 gas stations in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester. In addition to Wolf, each company has been charged in the case. Wolf and his corporations used the USTs to store petroleum and motor oil.

The United States is suing Wolf and his corporations for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA). RCRA gives EPA regulatory authority over handlers of hazardous waste and petroleum. It requires owners and operators of underground storage tanks to perform regular tests on their tanks to check for leaks, and to do assessments of the soil around tanks that are no longer in use to determine whether a release of contents has occurred. RCRA also requires tank owners and operators to keep thorough records of these tests, and any work done on the tanks.

Wolf and his companies are charged with failing to test tanks for leaks, failing to properly test soil after some tanks were closed, and failing to keep accurate and up-to-date records. Under RCRA, the defendants may be liable for civil penalties of up to $11,000 per day per tank for the violations. The government is also seeking an injunction requiring the defendants to fully comply with RCRA.

In announcing the filing of the suit, Mr. Carter said, "The defendants' failure to take all the necessary steps to prevent or detect releases from their underground storage tanks requires the government to seek compliance with the regulations and substantial civil penalties to deter such actions in the future by these defendants and other owners and operators of underground storage tanks."

William J. Muszynski, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator said, "By not testing hundreds of underground storage tanks for leaks, Wolf and his corporations put the neighborhoods in which the tanks are located at risk. Wolf's choice to ignore EPA regulations displays a lack of concern for the environment and for the laws of the United States. We anticipate that our strong partnership with the Department of Justice will result in a resolution of this matter in favor of human health and the environment."

There are approximately 900,000 underground storage tanks in the United States, and 9,335 in New York City. USTs are owned and operated by large corporations, gas stations, municipalities, oil refining facilities, and marinas, among many others, and are used primarily to store gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, heating oil, and some hazardous chemicals. USTs are also the nation's number one source of groundwater contamination.

Leaking underground storage tanks contaminate the ground immediately surrounding the tanks, and threaten the groundwater supply that flows beneath the tanks, which 50% of the U.S. population relies upon for drinking water. A spill of one gallon of petroleum can render one million gallons of water undrinkable. Gasoline also contains benzene, a known carcinogen, which when ingested or inhaled can prove harmful to human health. The risks posed to human health by leaks from underground storage tanks are made particularly serious when tanks are located in densely populated areas such as New York City. These risks are significantly lowered when UST owners and operators perform regular leak detection tests, as required under RCRA.

The companies owned by Mr. Wolf that are named in the case are:

Bill Wolf Petroleum Corporation

Route 109 Service Station

Storage Maintenance Corporation

Intrepid Maintenance Corporation

3072 Cropsey Avenue Corporation

633 New York Avenue Corporation

Williams Bridge Road Realty Corporation

Bruckner-Brook Gasoline Corporation

1579 Atlantic Avenue Corporation and

Broadway-129 Street Gasoline Company.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip J. Miller.


For more information contact:
Nina Habib Spencer, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3670 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: habib.nina@epamail.epa.gov