Phoenicia gas station reopens after shutdown for contamination
By Jay Braman Jr.
You can buy gas in Phoenicia again.
The Country Store in this hamlet opened Monday following a three-month closure while its owners investigated potential environmental problems.
Closed since January, the owners, Verona Oil Inc., suffered schedule set backs due to the discovery of fuel contamination underground at the site. Originally expected to be open within two weeks, the store remained closed for three months.
According to Wendy Rosenbach, a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) spokeswoman, Verona Oil was granted permission last month to continue the job of installing new underground gas tanks at the Main Street site.
“As long as we have a plan for the investigation they can put the new tanks in if they want,” she said.
The company signed a consent order with DEC on March 10. The consent order spells out plans for a full-scale spill investigation on the site to determine how bad the contamination is. The tanks are in and have been backfilled. Concrete was poured over them and the parking lot repaved.
It remains unclear when the investigation would be complete, or if the investigation would prompt a requirement to dig up the new tanks.
“Spill investigation/remediation during this current construction phase is complete,” Rosenbach added. “Additional investigation, which may include monitoring and additional remediation may be necessary dependent upon the investigation results.”
By monitoring, Rosenbach is referring to drilled wells surrounding the perimeter of the property. The wells would constantly be inspected to see if there is any hint of contamination seeping in to the groundwater.
Verona Oil Company, which operates the Country Store convenience market on Main Street, announced in mid-January that they were closing the Country Store for two weeks to do what they described as “renovations” to the premises.
What was actually happening, according to Rosenbach, was that Verona was carrying out its responsibilities under a December 10 consent order issued by DEC. The order was prepared after routine inspections discovered fuel storage violations on the property which cost Verona $5,000 in fines.
“They did not have proper leak detection,” Rosenbach said.
But before taking the old tanks out, Verona started the process of installing new ones on another part of the property. During that process, Rosenbach said, work crews discovered underground spills. DEC was notified and another inspection yielded another layer of trouble.
The first consent order required that the old underground fuel tanks had to be removed by March 15. Verona complied with the order.