EPA Region 2 and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York recently announced a significant settlement involving underground storage tank (UST) violations for tank systems owned and operated by the County of Suffolk, New York. The settlement serves as a timely reminder of the RCRA compliance obligations for states, counties, municipalities, and local governments that own and operate vehicle fleets, USTs, and tank systems at fueling facilities for Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, Department of Transportation, and related governmental departments. 

On December 18, 2013, the County of Suffolk on Long Island entered into a Consent Judgment resolving UST violations at 35 facilities, including Police Department Precincts, DPW Maintenance Yards, Highway Garages, and related fueling facilities. UST violations included

  • inadequate release detection; 
  • inadequate overfill prevention systems; 
  • failure to perform release detection of pressurized piping; and 
  • failure to maintain and provide records of release detection monitoring. 

The Consent Judgment also resolves allegations of improper handling and characterization of spent florescent lamps. The County has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty and fund a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) in the amount of $1,500,000. Compliance upgrades, such as installation and replacement of automated release detection systems, removal and closure of obsolete tanks, inventory control equipment, and the like, were valued at approximately $2.9 million. 

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day comment period following the January 10, 2014, notice in the Federal Register