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Consumer Affairs Probe Uncovers Bootleg Operation of MTBE-Contaminated Gas at Local Stations

Bogsted & Suozzi

Mineola, Ny Jan.30, 2006 – Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi joined Commissioner Roger Bogsted of the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) in announcing today the culmination of a six-month investigation that uncovered the bootleg delivery and sale of untaxed gasoline containing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a known groundwater contaminant outlawed in New York State.

The County’s investigation revealed an illegal profit-driven operation that not only posed serious potential harm to the local groundwater and environment, but also defrauded the metropolitan area out of millions of dollars in gas tax revenues.

The four stations cited by the County include:

 

  • Gas Corp, 1278 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont
  • Express Gas, 600 Tulip Ave., Floral Park
  • Express Gas, 70 E. Jericho Tpke, Mineola
  • Friendly Auto Care, 300 W. Merrick Rd., Freeport

MTBE is a synthetic chemical added to gasoline to improve air quality, but that also contaminates the soil, air, and drinking water. Exposure to MTBE has resulted in sinus problems, dizziness, nausea and headaches, and is a potential human carcinogen in large doses. Due to the potential for health risks, MTBE was banned in New York on Jan. 1, 2004.

“Once MTBE is in the groundwater, it spreads very rapidly and is almost impossible to remove,” County Executive Suozzi said.“We need to keep a wary eye on illegal activities of this sort to protect not only our deep artesian wells on Long Island, but to protect the health of our friends and families, as well.”

“Every step must be taken to assure consumers that the products they are purchasing are the ones that are being represented to them and that all laws and regulations are being followed,” Commissioner Bogsted said.“We must take all means necessary to make certain our groundwater aquifers remain pristine and the tax-paying public is protected.”

In addition to the gas stations that were cited, OCA has been a lead agency in a regional investigation into bootlegging of untaxed gasoline in the greater New York area.OCA has been working closely throughout the investigation with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and has forwarded all results of the operation for appropriate prosecutorial action. OCA issued ten violations to four locations which will result in fines of up to $75,000.

Contact: James W. Reed, Deputy Commissioner

Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs

516-571-3284