TRENTON – A Superior Court judge has directed Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. and Power Test Realty to pay the state more than $866,932 as compensation for costs incurred by the Schools Development Authority in cleaning up a polluted service station property acquired for a school construction project in Elizabeth, Attorney General Anne Milgram announced.
Following a nine-day trial in which 13 witnesses testified, Superior Court Judge Ross R. Anzaldi ruled that both Getty and Power Test are liable for petroleum-related soil and groundwater contamination at the former service station property on Newark Avenue in Elizabeth.
The judge also found that both Getty, of East Meadow, N.Y., and Power Test, of Jericho, N.Y., “abrogated their responsibility to take appropriate action” to address the pollution problem, and were unjustly enriched because they received fair market value for the property (as if it were not polluted).
Located at 743 Newark Avenue in Elizabeth, the property was acquired by the Schools Development Authority in 2003—the Authority was then known as the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation—and remediated by the state. Today, it is the site of Elizabeth School #30.
“This is an important decision for the citizens of New Jersey,” said Milgram. “Substantial public dollars were invested in the clean-up of this property, and it’s only fair that the responsible parties – those who allowed it to become contaminated and failed to meet their duty to remove that contamination – should pay.”
The Schools Development Authority acquired the Getty service station property in Elizabeth through condemnation in October 2003.
In 2004, separate testing efforts by both Getty and the state revealed the presence of various hazardous substances in the soil and groundwater including benzene, xylene, ethyl benzene and methyl tertiary ether.
In April 2004, additional investigation uncovered two, 3,000-gallon underground storage tanks for unleaded gasoline, and a 4,000-galloon underground storage tank for leaded gasoline. In addition, soil testing revealed the presence of hazardous pollutants where the tanks had been found, including total petroleum hydrocarbons.
The Schools Development Authority subsequently had 6,300 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil removed from the Getty property, and also removed a total of eight underground fuel storage tanks – including a 550-gallon oil storage tank that had been found underground on an adjoining property.
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