State and federal agencies have authority to impose significant fines on the owners and operators of underground and above-ground storage tanks who do not adhere to the rules and regulations related to handling, monitoring, recordkeeping, and use of leak-detection devices for such tanks. Such fines may be imposed even when a spill has not occurred.

The northern New Jersey counties of Monmouth County and Middlesex County, along with the city of Paterson, are facing heavy fines for violations of federal laws pertaining to the proper maintenance and monitoring of their underground storage tanks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed fines and other actions costing the municipalities over $340,000 for violations relating to improper monitoring, inaccurate record keeping, inadequate leak detection protocols for pressurized piping and failure to perform annual inspection of automatic line leak detector systems. EPA takes these violations seriously as failure to properly maintain and monitor underground storage tanks (“USTs”) can cause an unknown spill of petroleum product or hazardous material into the ground and contaminate soil and groundwater.

Monmouth County was the hardest hit of the three municipalities cited with violations. In an agreement reached with the EPA, Monmouth County will install a 20,000 gallon above-ground storage tank (“AST”) at the Tinton Falls reclamation center, in order to replace three non-compliant USTs, at an estimated cost of $275,000. The EPA also fined the county almost $4,000 for violations at three of their facilities, a penalty that was reduced due to the amount that the county is spending on the new AST.

Middlesex County was fined over $51,000 for violations at four UST locations. The county has agreed to install an electronic release detection monitoring system at each of its four facilities to ensure compliance. Paterson, New Jersey was fined almost $12,000 for non-compliance with federal laws at three of their underground storage tanks locations. The City of Paterson and the EPA reached an agreement ensuring that the city will operate its facilities in full compliance with federal law.

New Jersey Environmental Lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. Ensure Clients are in Full Compliance with Federal Laws and Regulations Set Forth by the Environmental Protection Agency

The experienced team of New Jersey environmental lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. fully understands the importance of compliance with federal, state and local laws surrounding environmental protection. Our extensive knowledge of the Underground Storage Tank provisions of the Energy Policy Act. the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund, Spill Prevention & Control Guidance, and related laws and regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency enables us to counsel our clients on how to stay in compliance and avoid hefty fines and government actions for violations of these laws.

We have successfully represented numerous clients that faced lawsuits, criminal charges, enforcement actions, and other government actions at the municipal, state and federal levels. We are fully aware and have extensive experience with the technical requirements, financial responsibility regulations and the state programs for approval objectives surrounding underground storage tanks. Our environmental lawyers consult with engineers, geologists and environmental consultants to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws.

For example, we represented the former owner of gasoline station in litigation with successor owner, operator and gasoline suppliers, and negotiated settlement which reduced claimed damages from about $1.5 million to $500,000. In another case, we represented a shopping mall owner whose property became contaminated by fuel oil migrating from a spill from an underground storage tank on the commercial property next door. In that case, we negotiated a settlement with the owner of the adjoining property, under which they performed the cleanup at their own expense, obtained an Act 2 release of liability from Pennsylvania DEP for soil and groundwater contamination for our client’s property (as well as their own), and reimbursed our client for its legal fees.

Call Michelman & Bricker, P.C. at 215-577-9440, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Longmeadow, Massachusetts allowing us to serve clients along the east coast.