The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with four different New England companies over alleged violations of federal oil spill laws.
Three companies in Connecticut and one in Maine agreed to pay penalties ranging from $4,000 to $9,900 in order to settle the agency's claims that they each violated federal laws designed to prevent oil spills. The agreements were reached as the result of an expedited settlement program in which the EPA agreed to reduce penalties for companies that were able to quickly remedy their regulatory violations.
As a result, all four companies have also now created oil spill prevention plans and made themselves compliant with federal oil pollution prevention laws, ensuring that the environment in the communities where they operate are better protected from damaging oil spills.
The companies involved in the settlements included a Maine logging contractor, as well as a diesel fuel delivery company, bus charter service and a metals manufacturer in Connecticut.
"Each of these companies stores oil in quantities that require plans to prevent spills and minimize damage from oil spills, so they need to have spill prevention plans that comply with federal clean water regulations," EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro said in a statement. "Companies that store oil must follow the laws designed to protect the public and the environment."
The Connecticut manufacturing company agreed in June 2018 to pay a $6,100 penalty and to take actions to prevent future spills, as the result of an incident earlier that year which leaked thousands of gallons of oil into the surrounding community. In January 2018, an oil cooling tower system at the facility had an external valve piping failure that caused the release of approximately 5,790 gallons of oil, which flowed into a nearby storm drain. Of the nearly 6,000 gallons released, between 625 and 650 gallons were recovered from the Naugatuck River. The company promptly led a cleanup effort following the spill.
On Sept. 20, 2018, the Maine logging company agreed to pay a $4,000 penalty and address violations of the Clean Water Act's oil pollution prevention regulations. The allegations stemmed from a February incident in which a fuel delivery company over-filled an above-ground storage tank, which caused oil to discharge and spill into a nearby stream that flows into the Sandy River, a 73-mile-long tributary of the Kennebec River. The facility did not have a required Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan in place at the time of the spill.
"Three companies in Connecticut and one in Maine have agreed to pay penalties ranging from $4,000 to $9,900 as a result of oil spills."
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, in a separate action, penalized both the logging company and the fuel delivery company involved in the oil spill.
The Connecticut oil company agreed to the highest settlement amount of any in the group on Sept. 6, 2018, paying a $9,900 penalty after an EPA inspection revealed that their facility did not have adequate spill containment for oil truck loading racks and was not fully implementing its oil spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan. The business also agreed to address these regulatory violations.
The bus charter service agreed on Aug. 13, 2018 to pay a $4,700 penalty and address violations of the oil pollution prevention regulations. An earlier oil spill led state authorities to notify the EPA, and during the following inspection the agency saw that the facility did not have an adequate oil spill prevention control, and countermeasure plan.
The EPA's federal oil spill prevention, control, and countermeasure rules set specific requirements for businesses that store oil above a specific quantity, which are designed to prevent oil discharges into nearby water resources. The regulations require that businesses prepare, amend and implement oil spill prevention and response plans, which are part of the Clean Water Act's oil pollution prevention regulation requirements.