Source: Staten Island Advance (NY), December 17, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
The state wants Staten Island property owners affected by Hurricane Sandy to know they won’t be fined for oil spills on their property.
This comes on the heels of a scam letter threatening daily fines of $25,000 per day for failing to clean up storm-related oil spills.
A solicitation letter, sent out by GC Environmental, Inc., a private company in Bayshore, N.Y., falsely claims to be from the “Department of Remediation,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
DEC officials said the agency will not fine homeowners for discharging oil without a permit or for delaying cleanup of residential oil spills due to Sandy.
“In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, DEC provided spill cleanup services to more than 2,200 residences. For these actions, DEC will not seek cost recovery from the homeowners,” said Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner. “It is unconscionable that a company would try to take advantage of hurricane victims by threatening fines and then promoting the company as the solution.”
The GC Environmental letter points out sections of the New York State Navigation Law that requires those responsible for oil spills to promptly clean up those discharges, and that there could be a penalty of $25,000 a day for failure to complete that cleanup. The letter also states that any costs related to DEC’s actions in spill cleanup would be the responsibility of the spiller.
According to the DEC, no services of this company are being offered through the state.
More than 4,600 spills were reported to DEC as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and the agency responded to approximately 2,200 cases to recover oil, pumping approximately 500,000 gallons of oil and water. Of these cases, 1,511 occurred in New York City, said Lisa King, a DEC spokeswoman. The DEC couldn’t provide an exact number for how many spills occurred on Staten Island.
DEC and its contractors used vacuum trucks to extract oil floating on the surface of flood waters in basements and living spaces, and also recovered oil from damaged residential fuel oil tanks. DEC also made oil absorbent pads and disposal bags available to anyone who wanted to collect any remaining oil after flood waters had been pumped from their residence.
Much of the oil, which was spilled outside of structures onto yards and other areas, was washed away after the storm or has evaporated. Although there may be some staining on grass and other surfaces from residual petroleum, these small amounts do not pose a significant environmental or public health threat, and will continue to degrade over the winter.
More information on proper cleanup of oil spills can be found on DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/86505.html and in the New York State Department of Health’s publication “What Do Homeowners Need to Know About Oil Spills and Flooding?” (PDF) at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2752.pdf.