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Brick School District Hit With 10 Environmental Penalties at BTHS Fuel Station

Fuel Pump (Credit: Flickr)

Fuel Pump (Credit: Flickr)

The Brick Township school district has hired an attorney to appeal a 14-page document outlining 10 violations of various state environmental policies at the district’s filling station located near the school bus yard at Brick Township High School.

The document ordered several actions on the part of the district and also assessed a $23,200 fine. All of the violations were connected to the filling station, which consists of one 20,000 gallon gasoline tank and a 15,000 gallon diesel tank. Municipal vehicles, such as police cars, fill their tanks at the station, but it is wholly owned and operated by the school district.

The violations, as detailed in the notice of administrative action sent to the district by the state Department of Environmental Protection, consist of the following:

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  • “Stage II” components in a fuel dispenser were not working, including a torn faceplate and torn hose on dispenser number two.
  • The district failed to have a current and passing dynamic backpressure test. No documentation was on-site and the district has not provided such documentation to the state.
  • The district failed to have a current and passing pressure decay test. A Sept. 30 document indicated a failure due to “various leaks in the system,” and the district has not provided documentation as to the current testing status.
  • The district failed to provide 14 days’ notice before vapor recovery testing.
  • UDCs and STP sumps failed on Oct. 10, 2018. Only dispenser number five passed the test and repairs have apparently not been completed.
  • The district failed to provide overfill prevention for all tanks. A high level alarm was not functioning during a state inspection last fall. Certification of mechanical shut-of valves was not “performed or provided” until after the state’s inspection.
  • The district failed to test spill buckets at least once every three years. A contractor tested the two spill buckets at the site in 2018 and both failed. A followup inspection in March 2019 noted the spill buckets were in “poor condition.” No penalty was assessed for this violation, however, because in a re-test, the system passed and an improper testing method may have been previously employed.
  • Spill bucket failures were not addressed until after the 2018 inspection.
  • The district failed to comply with the law by filling tanks that were “known to be or suspected to be leaking or discharging hazardous substances.” The state ultimately imposed a fill ban on the facility, but it was lifted after the re-test of the spill bucket system.
  • Leak detection for piping and interstitial monitoring was not being performed as required by administrative rules. Only dispenser number five had a working sump.

The DEP found the district was in violation of the Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act, the Water Pollution Control Act, the Air Pollution Control Act and the Spill Compensation and Control Act.

District officials declined to address the details of the matter when asked by a resident during a public comment period at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting, citing potential litigation. The board awarded a no-bid contract for legal services to The Brennan Law Firm, of Cranbury. In the contract, attorney Francis J. Brennan wrote that he estimates the price for his firm’s services related to the matter will be $5,000.

“We do not believe the Board of Education should be subject to such a fine,” said Business Administrator James Edwards, who confirmed the district would appeal the state’s findings.

Regarding the nature of the contract: “We wanted special counsel that has experience in DEP matters,” said Superintendent Thomas Farrell. “That’s all it is at this point.