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Little Neck gas station spills oil into Udalls Cove

The spill was first noticed by Douglaston resident Bruce Stuart, who was walking his dog early last Thursday morning when he spotted the unmistakable rainbow reflection of oil coming off the water in Gabler's Creek, a small half-mile creek that runs along Udalls Cove Ravine and empties into Little Neck Bay.DEC officials investigated the site and found a nearby Mobil gas station, located at 244-05 Northern Boulevard, to be the source of the spill.Oil at the station entered the stream by way of a storm system connecting the creek to a drain at the gas station, said Arturo Garcia-Costas, a DEC spokesperson. The oil went down this drain, ultimately emptying into the creek, Garcia-Costas said.Stuart, however, is skeptical that the station is in fact the source of the spill. On the day following when Stuart reported the spill, he said the oil seemed to be still flowing - albeit at a lesser rate - but there was no trace of oil in the storm drain outside the gas station.The DEC said its cleanup of the creek is continuing and not yet complete. In the meantime, Mobil's representative has placed pads in the creek to capture and recover any leftover oil, Garcia-Costas said. Negative effects on the creek's wildlife or habitat have yet to be observed or reported, according to the DEC.Stuart, who also serves as vice president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, said he was frustrated, but not surprised when he found the oil."This is not the first time I've seen something like this," he said, adding that the water in this small creek could be connected to the area's drinking water. "You wouldn't pour oil in your garden and eat your vegetables."DEC officials were still investigating how the oil entered the station, but have already ordered the station's owners to take some measures, such as testing its drain systems and waste oil tank and removing all oil from drains and manholes at the station. Further actions could be taken depending on the results from the tests, Garcia-Costas said. Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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