New York City Auto Repair Shop Fined $100,000

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced that a New York City auto repair shop has been fined $100,000 for illegally dumping more than 200 gallons of waste oil. The defendant, New York Auto Service, Inc., located at 448-450 11th Avenue, in Manhattan, was sentenced to the maximum fine by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Marcie Kahn after pleading guilty to a felony charge of Endangering the Public Health, Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree.

Investigators from Spitzer's office and the DEC found that for at least two years, New York Auto Service recklessly disposed of waste oil and used oil products from its taxi fleet maintenance operation by pouring them into a leaking underground tank, contained in a porous concrete vault. In November 1997 an oil spill was found in an abandoned train yard beneath 11th Avenue, between 36th and 37th streets. Investigators also determined that oil had also leaked into the vents and the garage of the nearby Jacob Javits Convention Center which abuts the train yard.

Ultimately, 60,000 gallons of oil was removed from the spill area. With the help of DEC geologists and engineers, investigators determined that the origin of the spill was New York Auto Service's garage. The oil sampled from the garage's concrete vault and the oil sampled from the spill area were tested and found to be of the same origin.

"This fine by the court sends a strong message to those who flout the state's environmental laws: If you break the law, you will be held responsible," Spitzer said. "We will vigorously prosecute those who dispose of waste material improperly and pollute the state's environment simply because it is easier than doing it the legal and responsible way."

"New York has established strict rules and regulations regarding the disposal of waste motor oil and we need to ensure companies comply with these standards," Commissioner Cahill said. "DEC willcontinue to work with Attorney General Spitzer to uphold our State's environmental laws and ensure polluters are held accountable for their actions."

New York Auto Service paid the $100,000 fine in full at the time of sentencing.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Julieta Lozano, under the supervision of Rocky Piaggione, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit, and Criminal Prosecution Bureau Chief Janet Cohn.