TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the navigation law, in relation to
notification of discharge by the department of environmental conserva-
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends § 175 of the Navigation Law to require the Department
of Environmental Conservation, after a petroleum discharge or spill, to
notify the surrounding landowners and tenants. Section 2 enumerates the
JUSTIFICATION: Despite major and minor underground spills or discharges
of petroleum in New York, there is no statutory requirement that the
Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") notify surrounding
property owners or tenants. New York State has approximately 52,000
storage facilities which involve an estimated 125,000 bulk storage
tanks. Leaks and spills occur as a result of poor housekeeping, over-
filling of tanks, loading and unloading mistakes, and poor maintenance
and inspection. According to the DEC, each year it receives approximate-
ly 16,000 reports of confirmed and suspected releases to the environment
- roughly 90%. of the spills reported involve petroleum products.
In 2001, for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA")
inspected 33 mid-Hudson Valley gasoline service stations. With addi-
tional information provided by the owner of the stations, the EPA deter-
mined that 60 gas stations were operating tanks in violation of federal
law. The stations serve twenty New York counties. In 1993, in Flanders,
gasoline fumes in a residential basement helped DEC to determine that
anywhere between 100 and 1,000 gallons of petroleum had leaked from an
underground storage tank for a nearby gasoline service station, Private
wells were tested and determined to be contaminated. Private drinking
water wells are the primary source of potable water for businesses and
residences near the station. Additional statewide examples, large and
small, exist including the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, Newtown Creek in
Queens, New Windsor and Liberty in Orange County. Underground storage
tanks range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons,
and are used to store gasoline, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil
and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, government facilities
and large industrial sites. Leaks from tanks often contaminate the soil
around the tanks, and can cause unhealthy gasoline vapors to settle into
the basements of private homes and apartment buildings.
Underground storage tanks have historically been the nation's number one
source of ground water contamination, with over 500,000 confirmed
releases and spills reported nationwide as of 2011. EPA and states'
underground storage tank regulations were put in place to prevent
releases of petroleum, and, if a release does occur, to insure that it
is addressed immediately. Surrounding homeowners and tenants should know
when that is happening.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2005-06: Senate Environmental Conservation Cmte.
2007-08: Senate Environmental Conservation Cmte. 2009: Environmental
Conservation Cmte. 2010: S.4511 - Environmental Conservation Cmte;
Notice of Committee Consideration - Requested; Reported and Committed to
Finance; Reported and Committed to Rules 2012: S.4678 Environmental
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the state. Costs to be borne by violators.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect thirty days after it shall
have become a law.