A.G. Schneiderman Reaches Settlement With NYC Landlord Responsible For Widespread Violations Of State Oil Spill Prevention Laws

Settlement Requires Florence Edelstein To Pay $151,000 In Penalties For Amassing 90 Violations Of Oil Storage Laws At 25 Properties In Manhattan And The Bronx

Oil Spills Pollute Land And Water, Pose Serious Risks To Public Health

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with New York City landlord Florence Edelstein over widespread violations of state oil spill prevention laws that govern the safe handling and storage of heating oil at residential properties.  The Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Edelstein in December 2014 to enforce a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation order that found her liable for 90 violations of state oil spill prevention laws at 25 properties, three in the Bronx and the others located in Upper Manhattan and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Today’s settlement requires Edelstein to pay a penalty of $151,000. All violations were corrected by Edelstein’s company after the Attorney General commenced the 2014 lawsuit.

“New York has adopted oil spill prevention laws for a reason: to ensure spills and leaks do not contaminate our land and water or threaten public health,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Property owners have an obligation to comply fully with our oil spill prevention laws, and my office will continue to hold accountable those who ignore these and other environmental and public health laws.” 

“These types of spills pollute our land and water and pose serious risks to public health and safety,” Acting DEC Commissioner Gerstman said. “Property owners have an obligation to protect our environment and fellow residents from the harm caused by petroleum spills. No one is above the law.”

Oil spills can cause serious harm to human health and safety, as well as to New York’s water, land, and other natural resources. To prevent spills from large fuel storage tanks, including tanks used in residential buildings to hold heating oil, the state has adopted petroleum bulk storage (“PBS”) laws and related regulations applicable to tanks or groups of tanks that can hold more than 1,100 gallons of petroleum. The regulations require proper registration, installation, operation, maintenance, inspection, and, when applicable, closure of PBS tanks to prevent leaks and large-volume oil spills.

In his December 2014 lawsuit, Attorney General Schneiderman detailed the 90 violations of state PBS laws by Edelstein – the owner and chief executive officer of Edel Family Management Corporation, located at 2207 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn – that DEC found at the properties. Among other violations, the properties were cited for failing to accurately register storage tanks with the state, failing to properly label tanks, gauges, and fill ports, failing to maintain spill prevention equipment and records of monthly tank inspections. These requirements individually, and in combination, are important to preventing spills related to the handling and storage of oil. 

According to the original complaint, DEC investigators uncovered a pattern of PBS violations at Edelstein’s buildings in April and May of 2013. When Edelstein rejected the agency’s offer to resolve the violations by settlement, DEC brought an administrative enforcement action which resulted in a July 18 order by the DEC Commissioner. The agency assessed a civil penalty of $113,500 and ordered her to correct all 90 violations, both within 30 days. Although Edelstein did not challenge the DEC order, she failed to pay the penalty or correct the PBS violations as ordered.  

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the DEC for its assistance in this matter. 

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Andrew J. Gershon. The Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Lemuel M. Srolovic. The bureau is overseen by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel. DEC Assistant Regional Attorney John Urda assisted in the case.