DEC fines town over fuel tank violations
MINDEN The town is facing a possible $11,000 fine after a state inspection turned up a handful of violations including oil spills and an unregistered tank.
The petroleum bulk tank facility on Route 80 in Fort Plain is used by the Highway Department to fuel up town machinery such as snow plows.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation report, nine separate violations were cited during an inspection at the end of June.
Among the more significant violations were two unreported oil spills, an unregistered 2,000 gallon diesel tank, a smaller oil tank lacking a fill gauge and a lack of monthly inspections. The town was charged an initial $4,000 with the balance of $7,000 to be collected if the violations are not dealt with by Oct. 24.
Highway Superintendent Ron Kardash called the fine "a shocker," saying it seemed rather high.
"The spills were inside the shop," he said, "2 feet wide at most." He adding the puddles accumulated a few drops at a time from the tank valve each time it was used.
According to the DEC website, operators of above-ground storage tanks from 1,100 to 2,000 gallons must pay a registration fee of $100 every five years. The town's diesel tank has never been registered since it was installed in 1997, according to Kardash.
"We fell through the cracks," he said. "If you're in the system you get reminders, but we were never in the system. I just didn't know, but that's no excuse."
Another issue was a lack of inspections. According to the DEC website, "Operators of [above-ground storage tanks] must conduct monthly visual inspections," and keep written records of the findings.
"Our tanks are all solid," Kardash said, adding that he checked them often, but didn't keep records.
With the violations dealt with, Town Supervisor Tom Quackenbush said he'll be trying to get the fine refunded.
"This fine is not going to break the town of Minden," he said. "It's the principle of the thing. This is not how you work with a municipality.
"It's unfortunate that taxpayer money should be spent this way," he said.