Phoenicia project proceeding
By Jay Braman Jr.
The Country Store in Phoenicia should be able to reopen soon.
Closed since January, the owners, Verona Oil Inc., have suffered schedule set backs due to the discovery of underground fuel contamination at the site. Originally expected to be open within two weeks, the store remains shut down three months later.
But, according to Wendy Rosenbach, a NYS Department of Environmental Conserv-ation (DEC) spokeswoman, Verona Oil was at least granted permission to continue the job of installing new underground gas tanks at the Main Street site on March 10 when the company signed a consent order with DEC.
The consent order spells out plans for a full-scale spill investigation on the site to determine the full extent of the contamination.
“As long as we have a plan for the investigation they can put the new tanks in if they want,” she said.
Those tanks are in and have been backfilled. Last week, concrete was poured over them and repaving is expected next.
It remains unclear when the investigation would be complete, or if the investigation would prompt a requirement to dig up the new tanks as the details of the consent order were not available at press time.
“Spill investigation / remediation during this current construction phase is complete,” Rosenbach added. “Additional investigation, which may include monitoring and additional remediation may be necessary dependent upon the investigation results.”
By monitoring, Rosenbach is referring to drilled wells surrounding the perimeter of the property. The wells would constantly be inspected to see if there is any hint of contamination seeping in to the groundwater.
Verona Oil Company, which operates the Country Store convenience market on Main Street, announced in mid-January that they were closing the store for two weeks to do what they described as “renovations” to the premises.
What was actually happening, according to Rosenbach, was Verona was carrying out its responsibilities under a December 10 consent order issued by DEC. The order was prepared after routine inspections discovered fuel storage violations on the property which cost Verona $5,000 in fines.
“They did not have proper leak detection,” Rosenbach said.
But before taking the old tanks out, Verona started the process of installing new ones on another part of the property. During that process, Rosenbach said, works crews discovered underground spills. DEC was notified and another inspection yielded another layer of trouble.