The Town of Minden is facing a possible $11,000 in fines after a bulk tank inspection turned up a handful of violations, including oil spills and an unregistered tank.
The petroleum bulk tank facility on Route 80 in Fort Plain is used by the Highway Department to maintain and fuel up town machinery such as snow plows.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation report, nine separate violations were cited during an inspection at the end of June.
Among the more significant violations were two separate unreported oil spills, an unregistered 2,000 gallon diesel tank, a smaller oil tank lacking a fill gauge and a total lack of monthly inspections.
The town was charged an initial $4,000 with the balance of $7,000 to be collected if the violations are not dealt with by Oct. 24.
Highway Superintendent Ron Kardash called the fine “a shocker,” saying it seemed rather high.
“The spills were inside the shop,” he said, “two feet wide at most.”
He added that the puddles accumulated a few drops at a time from the tank valve each time it was used.
According to the DEC website, operators of above-ground storage tanks from 1,100 gallons to 2,000 must pay a registration fee of $100 every five years.
The town’s diesel tank has never been registered since it was installed in 1997, according to Kardash.
“We fell through the cracks,” he said. “If you’re in the system you get reminders, but we were never in the system. I just didn’t know, but that’s no excuse.”
Another issue was a lack of inspections. According to the DEC website, “Operators of [above-ground storage tanks] must conduct monthly visual inspections,” and keep written records of the findings.
“Our tanks are all solid,” Kardash said, adding that he checked them often but didn’t keep records.
The report also mentioned an oil tank missing a gauge or high-level alarm to prevent spills. Kardash said he used to just look in the tank to check the level.
Since the inspection a high-level gauge has been installed on the oil tank, the spills have been cleaned up and paperwork filed.
“I have all my permits on the wall of my office,” he said.
He said that Attorney John Kirkpatrick, who handled the legal end of the situation, has likely already sent the $4,000 check, but Kirkpatrick could not be reached to confirm.
Town Supervisor Tom Quackenbush did not return calls for comment on how the funds will be recouped.
“By next week it should all be figured out,” Kardash said. “This will never happen again.”
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