Jan 30, 2007

Shell Pays $1.2 Million for Polluting New Jersey Water

Shell and its affiliated company Motiva have agreed to pay a $1.2 million fine for not following state orders to clean up pollution from leaking underground fuel tanks at a Ridgewood, N.J. service station.

Lisa Jackson, who heads the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, told the Environmental News Service that even though the station eventually came into compliance, the fine will send a message to other polluters.

The fine comes from three gasoline leaks from underground storage tanks at the Shell service station at Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike in the village of Ridgewood, Bergen County.

The station was owned by Shell Oil from 1985 until 1998, when Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Shell and Saudi Refining Inc., became the owner.

Gasoline was first detected in the area’s water in June 1987, and shut down two municipal wells adjacent to the Shell station. DEP traced the contamination to the station.

The Environmental News Service reports that Shell installed pump-and-treat and vapor extraction systems to fix the problem of the on-site contamination. Ridgewood installed an off-site treatment system and the wells were put back into service.

In February 1995, Shell made the DEP aware of another discharge of 1,700 gallons of gasoline. Shell then upgraded its on-site treatment systems.

In 1996, DEP issued a Spill Act directive, ordering the company to remove the discharge and provide enhanced treatment for the municipal water supply.

When the company failed to follow the order, the DEP issued a Notice of Violation against Shell.

In June 1998, Shell reported another discharge of approximately 1,000 gallons. This time, the company shut down the pump-and-treat system, pleading that it was not designed to handle the contamination.

On August 30, 2000, DEP issued fine notices totaling $1.6 million.

After the fines were issued, Shell upgraded the on-site treatment systems to meet DEP requirements. It also delineated the vertical and horizontal extent of the contamination plume as the department required.