ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Environmental conservation police officers (ECOs) recently completed a six-week gas station enforcement detail in the Capital Region and surrounding counties. Officials said the detail aimed to protect public health and the environment in areas disproportionately burdened by pollution.

“Enforcement details are an important tool to protect residents and natural resources from pollution and hold those responsible accountable,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 4 Director Anthony Luisi said. “This latest gas station detail was an opportunity for us to take a hard look at a particular industry and work with facilities with violations to identify corrective measures and meet compliance requirements that protect public health and the environment.”

Communities, where gas stations were checked, included Albany, Schenectady, and Troy’s West Hill, Mount Hope, Delaware Area, Bellevue, Mount Pleasant, Lansingburgh, and The Hill neighborhoods. Locations in other communities across the region’s nine counties—Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Schoharie—were also inspected to ensure compliance with the State’s stringent petroleum bulk storage and air regulations.

During the unannounced inspections, DEC identified non-compliant gas stations and noticed a total of 276 violations. DEC worked with gas station representatives to identify corrective measures to reduce harmful vapors escaping from petroleum storage tanks, address petroleum spills from leaking tanks, and correct administrative violations.

Harmful vapors that escape from faulty petroleum storage tanks can impact the quality of life in a community and potentially create health issues for certain populations. Leaking petroleum tanks can contaminate large amounts of soil and water and have the potential to reach streams, lakes, rivers, and other sources of drinking water, contaminating the water used by people and wildlife. The cost of cleanup at facilities after a leak can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Each facility with violations was given an appropriate time frame to correct its infractions. If the violations are not corrected in the required time frame, the facility will be subject to formal administrative enforcement, which may include monetary penalties. DEC will perform follow-up inspections at the facilities to ensure compliance.