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Two N.H. Companies Face Fines for Oil Spill Prevention Violations

Release Date: 07/20/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – July 20, 2010) – Two New Hampshire companies with facilities that store significant amounts of oil each face penalties of up to $177,500 for their failure to take adequate precautions to prevent and contain oil spills, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

According to complaints issued recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Munce’s Superior and Munce’s Superior Petroleum Products of Gorham as well as Ryezak Oil Co. of Rumney failed to fully prepare and maintain Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure or SPCC plans.

The violations occurred despite attempts by EPA to gain information and require compliance. Although contacted by EPA, both companies have failed to respond to agency inquiries or phone calls.

According the EPA complaints, Munce’s failed to fully implement the required SPCC plan at three of its four oil storage facilities. At its fourth facility the company failed to create any plan at all. Munce’s has a total storage capacity of about 181,000 gallons, all within 50 to 500 feet of the Androscoggin River. EPA staff inspected the facility in November 2009.

Ryezak, inspected by EPA in March 2009, had an aggregate above ground storage capacity of about 70,000 gallons – all of it located about 200 feet from a storm drain that empties into the Baker River. The company did not have a secondary containment area for oil spills, as required by its spill prevention plan.

In addition to facing penalties 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.

Every year, thousands of gallons of oil are spilled from oil storage facilities, polluting New England waters. Even smaller spills add up and can have an adverse effect on aquatic life, as well as 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. Spill prevention plans are critical to preventing such spills or, if they do occur, adequately addressing them.

Federal law requires facilities that have the potential for spills to create spill prevention plans to prevent oil discharges to the nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans. Any facility with more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground oil storage capacity and meeting certain other criteria must have these plans in place. 

Since accidents happen, the law recognizes it is equally important that facilities know how to minimize environmental damage when spills do occur, and therefore requires response planning and spill preparation. This includes adequate employee training, spill response equipment, and a contingency plan for containing and cleaning up a release.

More information on spill prevention requirements is available at (http://www.epa.gov/oilspill).

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