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EPA Focus on Oil Spill Prevention Results in Three Settlements -Effort includes inspections of multi-facility companies

Release Date: 01/15/2008
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - Jan. 15, 2008) - Under an ongoing EPA effort to prevent oil spills, three additional New England companies will pay penalties to resolve allegations that they violated federal regulations related to the storage of oil. The companies have operations in all six New England states, and two own and operate multiple oil storage facilities.

Mantrose-Haeuser Co. Inc., an Attleboro Mass. shellac-based coatings facility, will pay $34,000 following a 2006 EPA inspection of its oil tanks and its facility. EPA found the company to be in violation of federal Clean Water Act regulations by releasing an unknown quantity of oil into the nearby Ten Mile River and failing to prepare and implement an adequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan.

Rice Oil Co. of Greenfield Mass. will pay a $157,500 penalty for alleged SPCC violations at four of its Massachusetts oil storage and distribution facilities and at a Vermont facility, where two oil spills occurred in 2003 and 2007. The company is affiliated with approximately 40 gas stations and convenience stores throughout New England.

Irving Oil Co., with U.S. operations based in Portsmouth N.H., will pay a $55,000 penalty for alleged violations at one of its facilities located in a drinking water protection area in Alton, N.H. In addition to the Alton facility, Irving owns and operates a total of twelve bulk oil storage facilities in New England, three of which are marine terminals with a combined storage capacity of over 100 million gallons.

Federal oil spill prevention regulations are designed to prevent pollution to waterways and to ensure that there will be an effective response to any oil discharges that do occur. Among other requirements, the SPCC plan must contain measures to prevent and control oil spills, including ensuring that there is adequate containment to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a waterway. Since meeting with EPA representatives, all three companies have been working cooperatively to update and fully implement SPCC plans at their New England facilities.

"Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, so it is important to take steps to prevent them from occurring," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Facilities that store and distribute oil have a responsibility to carefully follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills."

EPA continues to focus on oil spill prevention in New England. In 2007, EPA conducted inspections at over 100 facilities in New England to determine their compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.

Additional Information on Mantrose-Haeuser

EPA had originally responded to a release of sulfuric acid at Mantrose-Haeuser in June 2006, and subsequently conducted an inspection of the facility's oil tanks one month later, during which the inspector observed another spill occurring, this time a release of diesel fuel. The second spill resulted from a leak in a diesel-powered high pressure washing device that had been staged on the facility's parking lot without any secondary containment to catch spills.

The leaked oil flowed into a nearby storm drain and into the Ten Mile River. EPA also noted that there was heavy oil staining and evidence of prior spillage throughout the delivery truck unloading area, directly adjacent to the river.

Upon EPA's observation that an oil sheen had developed on the river, Mantrose-Haeuser initiated steps to protect the storm drain with oil absorbent pads, shut down the leaking equipment and clean up the spilled oil. No environmental damage was evident from this release.

Additional Information on Rice Oil

On July 4, 2007, Rice Oil reported a 400-gallon discharge of oil from its Readsboro, Vt. facility. Emergency personnel from the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation responded and oversaw the investigation and remediation of the discharge. Some of the oil was observed to have escaped the earthen berm surrounding the tanks, however, no impact to the Deerfield River was observed.

This was the second oil discharge from this site within the past five years. Previous to the July 4th spill, Rice Oil had a 300-gallon fuel oil release in October 2003. The oil was discharged from a tank into the Deerfield River, and no product was recovered from the river during subsequent response operations. Following this release, Rice Oil paid a $15,000 penalty to EPA for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. At that time, the company also agreed to upgrade the oil storage and distribution systems at the Readsboro facility, as well as its other Massachusetts bulk plants.

On November 28, 2006, representatives from EPA and the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection inspected three of Rice Oil's Massachusetts bulk plants in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, and reviewed information related to an Orange, Mass. facility and the Vermont facility. The inspection revealed that the company had failed to upgrade its equipment as previously agreed to, including building sufficiently impervious and appropriately sized secondary containment for oil storage tanks, transfer areas, and loading racks.

Additional information on Irving Oil

A joint inspection by representatives from EPA's New England office and the N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services at the Alton bulk plant found that the company had failed to construct sufficiently impervious secondary containment around its aboveground storage tanks. The facility's oil storage included six aboveground bulk petroleum storage tanks ranging in size from 10,000 to 20,000 gallons, with an aggregate storage capacity of more than 100,000 gallons.

The Irving Oil facility also stores gasoline on-site and is located within the well radius of the Town of Alton's drinking water supply. This sensitive location means that spills at the bulk plant could lead to contamination of a public drinking water aquifer. In November 2005 the facility had a spill of over 5,000 gallons of No. 2 home heating oil, which impacted the groundwater beneath the tank farm.

More information:

New England Oil Spill Prevention (
http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/er/oilstodr.htm)
National Oil Spill Prevention: (
http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/reporting/index.htm)