For Immediate Release - January 14, 2011

Gasoline Station Owners and Operators Fined for Failing to Clean Up Gasoline Spill

Oil Found in Vicinity of Drinking Well of Private Property

BOSTON - The owners and operators of a Berkley, Massachusetts, gas station will pay a fine after ignoring an order by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to clean up gasoline contamination from an underground storage tank located on their property. Under the settlement, filed late yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Elizabeth and John Jackson and the corporation and real estate trust they control must pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the Commonwealth for ignoring MassDEP and for violating the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act. In addition, they must complete the cleanup of the gas station property by May 10, 2015, in accordance with the timelines and requirements established by DEP's regulations, which is known as the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, or "MCP".

"The law requires persons responsible for the release of oil or hazardous material into the environment to conduct and pay for the cleanup of their contaminated properties," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "We will pursue those who do not promptly and willingly comply with the law."

"This is the first of multiple cases in a pilot program where MassDEP and the Attorney General's office combined action against numerous violators who ignored the law and failed to clean up their sites," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell. "As part of this initiative, these defendants - along with others who similarly violated the law - will face cleanup costs and hefty penalties for ignoring their environmental responsibilities."

The Attorney General's Office filed its lawsuit after it was reported to MassDEP by a consultant who worked for the defendants that groundwater monitoring at the gas station had detected unsafe concentrations of a constituent of gasoline -- methyl tertiary-butyl ether ("MTBE") - near a private drinking water well on adjacent property, and the defendants ignored repeated compliance demands by MassDEP to promptly assess, classify, and remediate the site. The refusals to act contributed to increased potential risk to public safety, welfare and the environment caused by the contamination. When threatened with the filing of the lawsuit, the defendants ultimately agreed to conduct the remainder of the cleanup and to pay the civil penalty, thus avoiding costly litigation with the office of the Attorney General.

Assistant Attorney General Fred Augenstern, of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division, handled the case, with assistance from Investigator Monique Cascarano, and from John Handrahan from MassDEP's Southeast Regional Office and Rebecca Tobin from MassDEP's Office of General Counsel.

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