City gasoline station owners have been rebuffed in their efforts to stop enforcement of an antipollution law that requires installation of controversial, accordion-like sleeves on gasoline pump nozzles.
D.C. Superior Court Judge William S. Thompson Monday refused to grant station owners a temporary restraining order barring the city from enforcing the law, which was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 14 and now goes into effect immediately.
The law is part of legislation originally passed in 1974 that officials hope will bring the city into compliance with federal clean air standards by 1987. It requires station owners to install equipment that catches gasoline fumes that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere.
The District of Columbia and some jurisdictions in California are the only areas in the country where such equipment is required. Under the D.C. law, station owners who fail to comply are subject to a 90-day jail term and $5,000 fine.
Part of the equipment required is a nozzle with a rubber sleeve. Station owners maintained that the nozzles were difficult to operate, expensive, easily broken, and caused customers to leave in disgust.
Furthermore, they argued, the equipment would not clean the city's air as much as officials said it would. They said the city should wait until surrounding jurisdictions also required the devices.
Attorneys for the District responded that nearly all gasoline stations in the city have the equipment, rendering the issue moot.
An attorney for the dealers, Anthony Rachal, said he was disappointed with Thompson's ruling but described it as only a temporary setback. Dealers, he said, plan to go forward with their suit against the city.
An attorney for the city declined comment on the ruling.