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FDNY orders diesel station in Whitestone closed down

A small Whitestone diesel station that leaked fuel into the ground as it pumped petroleum out of a dilapidated truck on the property has been ordered to shut down, the Fire Department said.

The nameless, inconspicuous station sitting next to the backyards of several homes did not have the proper permits and was operating illegally, said FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Woznica.

The station's address is 151-26 6th Rd., but it is actually located just south of 6th Road on 151st Place.

On May 30, Woznica, then chief of Battalion 52, and other firefighters checked out a complaint about the location from state Sen. Frank Padavan's (R-Whitestone) office.

In his letter to Woznica, Padavan called the situation "a longstanding threat to public health."

On the property, tucked behind a metal bunker, was an old, green oil delivery truck, Woznica said. A diesel supply company would pump the fuel into the vehicle, which in turn supplied it to other trucks, Woznica said.

"The truck was so old, it was rusty," he said. "It was leaking like a sieve."

A puddle of diesel was sitting on the property, and the fuel was seeping into the soil, Woznica said.

"There was a danger as far as if it had caught fire, then we would have a major oil fire," Woznica said. "It could have presented an exposure problem to the houses there."

Woznica said he spoke with the property's owner, telling him to remove the truck and clean up the soil. He described the owner as "relatively cooperative."

The owner removed the green tank after the FDNY's visit, said Ludwig Whitman, whose home faces the station.

Woznica also notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation about the matter. He said the owner could obtain the proper permits for the station after cleaning up the soil.

The owner of the property could not be reached for comment.

The station is on an atypical block. Houses sit on the southern half, and the northern half is an industrial area, home to a contracting company, a paving company and a painting business in addition to the diesel station.

Although the property was no longer being used for fueling, trucks were still parking there late at night, keeping the neighbors awake, Whitman said.

He said the owner had yet to remove the contaminated soil.

"They cleaned up some of the rubbish, but they didn't take out the ground," he said.

The station is across the street from U.S. Tow's operations at the Charles F. Follini Depot, where cars seized by the city marshal are stored. Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has called for the closing of the depot, saying its vehicles disturbed nearby residents.

Avella said he was pushing the city to change the zoning of the small industrial area.

"Manufacturing districts like that area that includes U.S. Tow are directly next to low-rise residential," he said. "It leads to a lot of quality-of-life complaints."

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

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