For Immediate Release - July 27, 2010

Fuel Company and Manager Indicted for Failing to Report an Oil Spill at Martha's Vineyard Gas Station

EDGARTOWN - A Dukes County Grand Jury returned indictments today against a Falmouth-based fuel company and its manager for allegedly failing to report an oil spill in Oak Bluffs in June 2009, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Loud Fuel Co., of Falmouth, and its manager Kabraul Tasha, 40, of Pocasset, were indicted on one count each of Failure to Report an Oil Spill and Environmental Endangerment.

"We allege that the defendant did not take the necessary steps to determine the extent of the spill and failed to notify authorities that a spill, that could have damaging impacts to nearby natural resources and businesses had occurred," said AG Coakley. "It is vitally important that oil spills are reported in a timely manner to minimize any damage to surrounding natural resources and local communities."

"A spill of gasoline or other hazardous material poses a clear threat to the public health and the environment. That is why the law is clear that MassDEP must be notified when a spill occurs," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "We have highly trained emergency response personnel on call 24 hours a day to ensure that any such release is contained and the environmental impacts are mitigated."

Authorities allege on June 19, 2009, Tasha delivered gasoline to Jim's Package Store, 27 Lake St., Oak Bluffs, and failed to properly connect the gas line from his truck to one of the fill-in ports at the gas station. During the course of filling that port, approximately 50 gallons of gasoline spilled onto the ground in the alley where the ports are located, according to authorities. The alley runs between Jim's Package Store and a neighboring restaurant.

Authorities further allege that once Tasha became aware of the spill, he made some efforts to clean up the gasoline with absorbent pads in his truck but failed to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that the spill occurred as required by law.

MassDEP inspected the property in June 2009 immediately after a neighboring business reported smelling a strong odor of gasoline to local authorities in the days following the spill. At the request of the MassDEP, Loud Fuel hired a Licensed Site professional to clean up the property and submitted a report outlining the immediate response actions it took to remediate the damage.

The Massachusetts Clean Air Act requires the owner of a site or a vessel to immediately report the release of oil of ten or more gallons to authorities.

Today's indictments stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), an interagency unit that includes prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP.

This case was investigated by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), which is overseen by Attorney General Martha Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian A. Bowles. The ECSF investigates and prosecutes crimes that harm or threaten the state's water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

The indictments were returned today in Dukes County Superior Court. The defendants are scheduled for arraignment in Dukes County Superior Court on September 28.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer, Chief of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, is prosecuting the case. Jaime Goncalves and Dan Crafton of MassDEP's Emergency Response Unit and MassDEP Attorney Rebecca Tobin, along with members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, investigated this case.