Retailer Tanked

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Retailer Tanked

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office has filed civil charges accusing the operators of five gas stations with failing to maintain their underground storage tanks. The complaint said Northland Marketing Corp, allegedly failed to comply with federal requirements, such as upgrading the storage tanks to prevent leaks or conducting leak detection tests.

Joseph Macchia is the president and Lorenzo Macchia is vice president of Brooklyn-based Northland Marketing, which at one time owned or operated more than 40 gas stations in the city. The government also is seeking penalties of $10,000 per tank, per day against the Macchias and their company for violating a 1997 consent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after numerous violations were found at the same sites a decade ago, according to the New York Daily News.

"The defendants' systematic disregard of laws designed to protect the environment and public health is not acceptable," U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad said at a news conference here.

Just one of the stations continues to pump gas. The other sites are either shuttered or just offer auto repairs, but the old tanks remain in place. None of the tanks contain protection against corrosion or overfill, spill alarms or spill basins, the complaint said.

Officials said failure to maintain the underground tanks could result in gasoline or waste oil leaking into the groundwater. The fumes also can pose health hazards to people living above contaminated groundwater. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency has not conducted tests to determine whether any fuel has leaked from the tanks at any of the sites, the report said.