State Obtains $50 Thousand To Help Cornwall Haz-mat Units

Attorney General Spitzer and Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced an agreement where Amerada Hess Corporation will donate $50,000 to three Orange County public safety departments.

In May 1997 a driver for the New Jersey-based company, while making a delivery, was responsible for the spill of some 700 gallons of fuel oil at Cornwall Hospital.

In order to avoid litigation by the State, Hess agreed to donate the money to the three agencies which responded to the spill:

The Cornwall Fire Department $17,834.40
The Cornwall Police Department $18,403.25
The Orange County Haz-Mat Team $13,762.35

"Although this spill should have never occurred, I believe it’s important to point out that Hess has acted responsibly in its aftermath," said Spitzer. "The $50,000 donation will directly aid the Cornwall agencies which handle spills and other types of hazardous material emergencies. My office will continue to act aggressively when it comes to protecting the environment."

DEC Commissioner John P. Cahill said:
"This case is another fine example of good investigative work by DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigations, which worked closely with the Attorney General’s office to develop this case. I’m particularly pleased that the settlement of this case will result in funds for the local law enforcement and emergency response teams that responded to this case. DEC relies on its close working relationship with local governments to respond quickly and effectively to oil spills like this one."

Town of Cornwall Supervisor Richard Randazzo said:
"It is good policy to return something to the community for resources spent on controlling a hazardous spill. The Attorney General’s office has done a great job in an area that will assist us in handling future situations as they may arise."

The Attorney General’s office obtained a conviction against the driver of the truck that caused the spill. The driver pled guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to pay a fine and perform community service.

The truck driver failed to make sure that there was sufficient room in the hospital oil tank to receive the delivery. After connecting the hose to the tank and starting the delivery, he returned to the truck.

Someone from the hospital noticed fuel spraying out of the tank’s vent tube and notified the driver. But by that time, approximately 700 gallons had spilled to the ground. Hess was notified and immediately responded to the scene and remediated the spill to the satisfaction of the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Assistant Attorney General Hugh McLean of Spitzer’s Environmental Crimes Unit of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau handled the agreement. The case was handled by Inv. Ken Cole of DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigations in the Division of Law Enforcement.