Jul 13, 2011

Vermont, Massachusetts Companies Face Sanctions for Oil Spills

Executives face up to $177,500 in EPA penalties for failing to prevent spills

Companies in Massachusetts and Vermont that each store significant amounts of oil are facing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) penalties of up to $177,500 for failing to take adequate precautions meant to prevent and contain oil spills.
Specifically, EPA’s New England office alleged in a complaint filed recently that Knight Oil of Salisbury, Mass., and Rowley Fuels of Allburgh, Vt., failed to adequately prepare and maintain Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plans, known as SPCC plans. Both complaints were based on inspections by EPA staff.
In addition to facing penalties that could be as high as $177,500, the companies must take steps to bring the facilities into immediate compliance with the federal spill prevention and response planning requirements. Both companies have taken steps to bring the facilities into compliance with federal SPCC requirements.
Every year, thousands of gallons of oil are spilled from oil storage facilities, polluting New England waters. Even small oil spills can cumulatively have an adverse effect on aquatic life and on public and private property. Because discharges from these facilities are often to small streams and rivers that have little to no dilution capabilities, the harm can be great. SPCC plans are critical to ensuring that such spills are prevented and, if they do occur, are adequately addressed.
Federal law requires facilities that have the potential for spills take every step possible to prevent, before they occur, oil discharges to the nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans through putting in place SPCC plans. Any facility with more than 1,320 gal of aboveground oil storage capacity and meeting certain other criteria must develop and put in place SPCC plans to prevent and contain spills, including installing non-porous containment around storage tanks.