Albany car dealership fined over petroleum spill

The owner of Advantage Suzuki was fined $2,500 for failing to report a petroleum spill on a piece of

The owner of Advantage Suzuki was fined $2,500 for failing to report a petroleum spill on a piece of land occupied by his car dealership and Destination Nissan, both off Central Avenue in Albany.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officers stopped by James Morrell’s site at 740 Central Ave. on Dec. 17 and watched as excavation work brought up petroleum and a “strange odor of gasoline,” according to documents obtained by The Daily Gazette.

Morrell sent a report to the DEC that day about the petroleum discharge. A few weeks later, on Jan. 8, Morrell submitted a report prepared by Evergreen Testing and Environmental Services that found petroleum had contaminated the grounds there on three separate occasions prior to the DEC visit.

“Black/gray discoloration and petroleum-type odors were noted at approximately six feet below the ground surface,” according to report findings dated Dec. 7. “Discolored soil below six feet depth was stockpiled on plastic at the rear of the subject property and covered.”

Three days later, Ravena-based Albany Tank Services, Inc. visited the grounds and vacuumed the contents of the underground storage tank, along with pooling groundwater from the excavation. In all, it vacuumed about 938 gallons of petroleum and water. The tank was then removed and stored on plastic at the back of the property. When removed, both tanks appeared “significantly pitted and rusted with several small holes,” according to the documents.

“The soil around both of the underground storage tanks appeared discolored with strong petroleum-type odors,” the report said.

On Dec. 12, Mac-Son Industrial Services vacuumed about 2,340 gallons of groundwater with traces of petroleum from the excavation, according to the Evergreen report.

State law requires that any person with knowledge of a spill, leak or discharge of petroleum must report the incident to the DEC within two hours of discovery.

Environmental Conservation Law allows for a civil penalty of up to $37,500 for each violation. Morrell was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $5,000, of which only $2,500 is due if he complies with the following DEC requirements:

• He must remove the four underground tanks from his site and submit a subsurface investigation work plan that characterizes the geology of the site, groundwater flow direction and the extent of contamination.

• He also must submit a remediation work plan, detailing proposals for ridding any petroleum contamination from the site.

• He must perform quarterly sampling of select monitoring wells for at least one year after demonstrating that groundwater at the site meets state standards.

• Finally, Morrell must submit quarterly reports that include groundwater elevation data, a groundwater contour map, remedial system operation and maintenance data.

Morrell agreed to these terms in an enforcement order signed Feb. 13.

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