United States settles environmental lawsuit against
New York City
The United States has settled a civil lawsuit
against the City of New York involving violations of the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in connection with the City’s
underground storage tank systems. The settlement, filed in Manhattan
federal court, requires the City to pay $1.3 million in civil
penalties and to bring substandard tank systems into compliance
with federal law. The Consent Decree also requires the City to
undertake an additional environmental project to improve the City’s
ability to identify releases from its underground storage tanks.
The United States charged in
the lawsuit that, from at least 1997, the City has been violating
RCRA in connection with its underground storage tank systems.
As alleged in the complaint,
New York City owns at least 1,600 underground storage tanks in
at least 400 locations throughout the New York City metropolitan
area, including all five boroughs. The complaint further explained
that underground storage tanks store petroleum and other substances
that can harm the environment and human health if these substances
were to leak from the tanks.
The complaint noted that Congress
passed the subtitle of RCRA governing underground storage tanks
in response to the growing number of groundwater contamination
incidents caused by substances leaking from such tanks.
The lawsuit charged that New
York City has for many years committed numerous violations of
RCRA and the federal Underground Storage Tank regulations issued
by the EPA, including that the City failed to: upgrade or close
non-compliant underground storage tank systems; provide proper
methods to detect releases of hazardous substances; and report,
investigate, and confirm suspected releases of regulated substances.
As part of the settlement, the
City agreed to pay a $1.3 million civil monetary penalty to the
federal Government, and to spend additional hundreds of thousands
of dollars to carry out environmental projects that will improve
the City’s ability to detect releases from its underground
storage tanks. In particular, the City will undertake a multi-year
project to monitor releases and suspected releases from a central
location for the underground storage tanks owned and operated
by the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Department
of Transportation. In addition, the Consent Decree requires the
City to comply with RCRA by upgrading or closing noncompliant
underground storage tanks.
Assistant United States Attorneys
Sarah E. Light and Edward Scarvalone are in charge of the case.