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EPA and Federal General Services Administration Settle Underground Storage Tank Violations in New Jersey and New York

Release Date: 12/15/2008
Contact Information: John Senn (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) have agreed on a settlement to correct violations regarding the management of underground storage tanks at three GSA facilities in New Jersey and New York. Under the settlement, a consent agreement, GSA will bring the facilities into compliance with federal regulations, either by upgrading or permanently closing and replacing old systems with new ones. In addition, GSA has agreed to voluntarily provide release detection for tanks that store fuel solely for use by emergency power generators and pay a $70,000 penalty.

Underground storage tank systems commonly store petroleum or hazardous wastes. About 625,000 systems exist nationwide, and they can harm the environment and human health if their contents are released. Underground storage tank systems that store fuel solely for use by emergency power generators are exempt from federal release detection requirements, but must have corrosion protection, spill and overfill prevention equipment. Systems that cannot meet these requirements are required to be permanently closed.

“We’re pleased with GSA’s willingness to meet and exceed compliance requirements in this case,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “It is vital to the health of our environment that underground storage tanks systems function properly and be judiciously monitored.”

Routine EPA inspections in 2007 of the Silvio V. Mollo Federal Building and Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan showed that their underground storage tank systems were not upgraded under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Additionally, inspections of one system at the Martin Luther King Courthouse in Newark, N.J. found that it did not meet new system performance standards.

To help correct the violations, GSA upgraded the underground storage tank system at the Mollo building and will permanently close systems at the Marshall and King courthouses. The system at the King courthouse will be replaced with one that meets new performance standards. GSA has also installed a modernized electronic release detection system not required by law at the Mollo facility, and plans to install a similar release detection system at the King facility.

For more information on underground storage tanks, visit http://www.epa.gov/oust/.

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