Mass. AG reaches settlement over fuel spill

Bryan Cohen Oct. 28, 2011, 2:24pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement Thursday with the owner and operator of a Milford gas station who allegedly failed to notify authorities of a 15,000 gallon diesel fuel spill.

Under the terms of the settlement, Vincent Cuttone of Concord and his two companies, Route 16 Gas Inc. and 16 Gas LLC, will pay $100,000 to the state and $100,000 to the state's Natural Resource Damages Trust.

Cuttone will also pay for annual environmental audits at each of the filling stations he owns over the next three years and will maintain functioning tank monitoring equipment at those stations and secure training for himself and his employees in the proper operation of tank monitoring equipment in addition to spill prevention and reporting.

The settlement was approved on Thursday by Judge Mitchell Kaplan of the Suffolk Superior Court.

"It is critical that gas station operators promptly report discrepancies in underground fuel tank levels and are vigilant in protecting the environment against oil spills from those tanks," Coakley said. "We will take prompt action against owners and operators if they fail to perform these essential functions."

Coakley's office alleged in July 2008 that one of the tanks at a station Cuttone owned spilled thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into the ground. A review of data gathered by an automated tank monitoring system at the tank showed numerous prior discrepancies in fuel levels that, under state fire regulations, should have been reported to officials at the fire department months earlier.

According to the complaint, further review of data gathered from the monitoring system showed that diesel fuel was released at an approximate rate of more than eight gallons per hour, amounting to an estimated 15,000 gallons of spilled diesel fuel between April 2008 and July 2008.

Under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, the defendants were required to notify MassDEP within two hours of obtaining knowledge of a diesel fuel release into the soil and groundwater.

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