New Bedford, Mass., Settles Oil Spill Case with EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it has reached a settlement with the City of New Bedford, Mass. over alleged violations of oil spill prevention requirements at the city's drinking water plant.

New Bedford will pay a $5,000 fine and implement a formal environmental management system at the city's water treatment facility and public works garage, at an estimated cost of $20,000.

EPA's complaint alleges that although there were some structures in place to contain a spill, the city did not prepare and implement an approved oil spill prevention plan for the Quitticas Water Treatment facility, as required by federal law for all facilities capable of storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil above ground. The facility is located adjacent to the Little Quittacas Pond, a drinking water reservoir.

"An oil spill into the city's drinking water reservoir, either by accident, vandalism or terrorism, could have serious effects, which is why a proper oil spill prevention plan is so important," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "The good news here is that thanks to the environmental management project, New Bedford will be able to improve its environmental performance in the future, not only at the drinking water facility, but across the city."

Since EPA's complaint, the city has implemented a spill control plan.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay a $5,000 cash penalty and develop a formal Environmental Management System (EMS) for two of its facilities, at a cost of $20,000.

The settlement requires New Bedford to implement an EMS at the Quittacas Water Treatment Facility in East Freetown and the New Bedford Department of Public Infrastructure office and garage.

But the city has stated it intends to use the EMS framework it develops to address environmental issues at other facilities under its control in the future.


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