ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – When you’re dealing with petroleum and pipelines, leaks are bound to occur, but environmental firms argue the problem in New York is companies aren’t cleaning them up and they’re seeing little action from the state government to help.
“A huge array of oil terminal problems, gas station problems, the scale of the pollution is simply staggering, it’s just hard to believe,” Walter Hang, president, Toxics Targeting, said.
What started as looking at one pipeline leak in the Southern Tier lead to a statewide analysis for Walter Hang’s environmental firm in Ithaca.
“Contaminated soil and wetlands and it was never cleaned up to the applicable standards.”
That pipeline is not alone, looking at DEC’s own data, hang found over 3,500 spills from gas stations alone and another ten from large tank storage facilities.
Hang says the spills have been known about, some for decades, but the clean up’s failed to meet state standards.
“I found sites for example from Rochester, New York almost twenty feet of oil that have never been cleaned up to state standards.”
Hang deals with numbers, not patients, but common sense says oil seeping twenty feet deep underground left untreated for years near suburbs is not good.
“What we’re hoping is that these kinds of issues are addressed that the governor and regulators crack the whip on responsible parties, the responsible parties pay for their cleanup, lawmakers hold hearings, the public gets engaged,” Blair Horner, executive director, New York Public Interest Research Group, said.
This work just happened to look at Exxon Mobile, the largest oil company in New York state, but advocates say the main focus should be on the state’s department of conservation.
“The companies are dragging their feet, they’re not cleaning it up, they’re studying everything to death and they’re losing notes.”
Hang points to past statements’ from the DEC saying they’d work with companies to comply with state standards but says their own data prove that’s not happening.
“We’re just not making the kind of progress that’s being required,” Hang said.
DEC sent the following statement Thursday evening:
DEC rapidly responds to and cleans up thousands of contaminated sites every year in every corner of the state to ensure that the environment and public health are protected at all times while aggressively pursuing and holding those accountable for the contamination. Our dedicated field staff and first responders will continue their daily response to spills to keep New Yorkers safe and to suggest otherwise or discredit our staff’s commitment, is an irresponsible act by a few headline grabbers to shamefully feed New Yorkers with misinformation.