North Hempstead Town has authorized paying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a $49,500 fine for failing to close an underground fuel storage tank and monitor other tanks for leaks, and for not conducting required anti-leak tests, records show.
A settlement has not yet been finalized, an EPA spokesman said, adding that the agency was still negotiating the final amount of the fine and requirements to address the alleged violations.
Town records show that the fine had been as high as $104,000 for violations that occurred between 2011 and 2016. “We’re in discussions with the town to address the alleged violations,” John Martin, the EPA spokesman in New York, said. “We’re still negotiating.”
North Hempstead has agreed to install a centralized monitoring system for all of its underground storage tank systems in addition to paying the fine, according to a “Consent Agreement and Final Order” approved by the town board on Aug. 23.
The EPA issued a notice of violation to North Hempstead in June 2012 after inspecting of stored oil and diesel fuel at a town highway yard in Port Washington. North Hempstead is accused of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal law that issues guidelines for managing hazardous waste.
According to the agreement approved by the town, North Hempstead was cited for failure to permanently close an underground storage tank at its Shore Road Yard in Port Washington from September 2011 to September 2013. EPA gave the town 12 months to close the tank. The town is also cited for failing to monitor tanks for leaks every 30 days at its highway department yard in New Hyde Park and at the town-operated Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington. The highway department violations occurred between September 2011 and November 2015, while the violations at the golf course occurred from October 2011 through March 2016, according to the agreement.
North Hempstead also failed to conduct a line tightness test to examine the strength of its anti-leak technology at its Solid Waste Management Authority in Port Washington from October 2011 to October 2013 and at the golf course from October 2011 to October 2012, according to the agreement.
Detecting releases from underground storage systems “helps stop contamination before it spreads,” the EPA notes on its website.
As part of the agreement, the town must also install a centralized monitoring system at five town facilities to collect data about leak detection and alarms.
The town has agreed to assess a site where two underground storage tanks were removed in October 2013 at its Highway Department yard in Port Washington. The assessment must be completed by Dec. 31.
The town also must install a leak detection system at its golf course by the end of 2016, according to the agreement.
North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth has declined to comment until after the agreement is finalized, a town spokeswoman said.
A town official familiar with the remediation plan said that most of the EPA violations have been addressed, while the rest of the required work is scheduled to be completed by the Dec. 31 deadline.
Former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, who served from 2004 to 2013 and was in office when the EPA first alerted the town to the violations, said in an email: “I believe we were alerted to the requirements by the EPA . . . and moved to remediate the situation immediately, although we were told fines would still have to be assessed.”