Feds: Gas station owners didn't properly secure underground tanks on Long Island

This gas station located at 1278 Hempstead Turnpike This gas station located at 1278 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont allegedly failed to properly secure underground gasoline storage tanks, potentially contaminating the public water supply. Exterior photographed March 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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Father-daughter business owners failed to properly secure underground gasoline storage tanks at four Long Island gas stations, potentially contaminating the public water supply, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Nedjet Yetim, 50, of Patchogue, and Rachelann Yetim, 29, of Floral Park, the owner-operators of the gas stations, allegedly violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and face penalties of up to $16,000 per tank for each day of violation.

Fifteen corporations that owned and/or operated the gas stations are also defendants, federal prosecutors said.

Two of the gas stations were located on Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, with the others being on Wyandanch Avenue in North Babylon and on Austin Boulevard in Island Park, authorities said.

Attorneys for the Yetims could not immediately be reached for comment.

"These defendants ignored their obligations under federal law to safeguard the public from gasoline and waste oil leaks at their underground storage tanks," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. "These violations demonstrate a serious and long-standing disregard for the environment, for the health and safety of their employees, and for the health and safety of residents of Long Island."

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According to the complaint, the owners failed to adhere to federal requirements that they provide corrosion protection for the gas pipes, conduct testing of that protection, implement a leak detection system, install gas leak protection, maintain records of gas releases, properly secure a temporarily-closed tank and cooperate with the EPA.

Federal officials alleged there were releases from the tanks at all four facilities, each of which is located above a federally designated Sole Source Aquifer.

Officials said the violations alleged do not pose an immediate threat to the drinking water of the area's residents, but the safeguards are "vital to ensure the integrity" of soil and groundwater, according to the statement.

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