After-effects of spill at Saugerties gas station still being dealt with, state says

Cleanup efforts are still ongoing over two years after a petroleum spill that contaminated water at the Route 32 Comfort Inn, according to state Department of Environmental Conversation spokespersons.

An unknown amount of petroleum, according to the DEC, was spilled as a result of faulty piping between storage tanks in May 2017, which was broken by a contractor from Gasland Petroleum Inc. working on one of the pumps at the Sunoco at 2781 Route 32. Although the lines were repaired quickly, neither the contractor nor the gas station owner reported the petroleum that had spilled into the ground. A DEC employee caught wind of the contamination when he smelled gas while washing his hands in a gas station bathroom during a routine inspection. It was discovered by the DEC and county Health Department workers that both the Comfort Inn and the Sunoco Station’s wells had been contaminated. An order was issued that the water be labeled unfit to drink.

According to the DEC, all contaminated soils at the site were removed in June 2017. However, the agency filed a complaint with an administrative law judge on June 28 of this year because, the agency alleges, the parties involved had not yet adequately cleaned the petroleum that had contaminated the site’s groundwater.

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The original consent order between the gas station owners, the company under which the contractor worked and the DEC called for the respondents to develop and implement a comprehensive cleanup plan to address contaminated soil and groundwater at the site, subject to strict DEC oversight. The order also required the respondent to continue to provide potable water to the Comfort Inn, and levied a fine of $318,303.

As of June 28 of this year, the groundwater treatment and extraction system mandated by the agency was not operational, according to DEC documents. The DEC filed a complaint with an administrative law judge on that date against Saugerties Snack Shop LLC, B.A.B. Plus LLC and Gasland Petroleum Inc. The agency charges that the parties were in violation anti-water pollution laws. The agency also stated in its complaint that the parties were in violation of Article 12 of the Navigational Law of New York State, more commonly know as the “Oil Spill Law,” which creates liability for gas stations and other parties that discharge petroleum into the environment.

Currently, said DEC Public Information Officer Kevin Frazier, the groundwater remediation system is now operational. However, when the complaint was filed, the system was not treating the groundwater. The defendants argued that the DEC had not provided them with adequate direction in their cleanup efforts, but Judge Michael S. Caruso did not agree and ordered the parties to respond to the DEC’s complaint within ten days.

Frazier said water treated by the system has been “truck[ed] … away for disposal awaiting necessary approvals from the town and neighboring property owner to discharge treated water into a nearby drainage ditch” and that the responsible parties need “an access agreement with the adjacent property owner to discharge the clean, treated water.” That water is currently being stored in a tank on the site.

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