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Two N.H. and Mass. Companies Face Fine for Souhegan River Oil Spill and Failing to Implement SPCC Plan

Release Date: 10/06/2009
Contact Information: Dave Deegan, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 6, 2009) – Draper Energy Co., Inc. of New Hampshire and Energy North Inc., of Massachusetts, face a combined penalty of up to $177,500 for violations of the Clean Water Act resulting from a March 2009 oil spill in the Souhegan River.

A recent EPA complaint against Draper and Energy North (ENI) asserts that the companies failed to fully implement an oil spill prevention plan, as required by the CWA. Draper is currently the owner and ENI is the operator of the facility at which the violations occurred.

The complaint details that a facility owned by Draper and operated by ENI, located in Milford, N.H., illegally discharged over 1,500 gallons of diesel oil into the nearby Souhegan River. The spill resulted from a ruptured pipe connecting an above ground storage tank containing the diesel to a pump. The automatic discharge alarm failed to alert anyone of the discharge and the oil flowed into the soil beneath the pump, into a culvert that runs beneath the facility, and finally into the the Souhegan River, which in turn connects to the Merrimack River and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean.

Because of the alarm failure, the oil was released for almost three days before neighboring businesses noticed a strong smell and an oil sheen on the water up to ten miles downstream in the Souhegan River. Once the spill had been realized, there was a prompt emergency response from the local fire department, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (“NH DES”), and EPA. Both Draper and ENI cooperated with NH DES and EPA in cleaning up the spill.

Approximately two weeks later, EPA conducted an inspection at the facility and found that they had prepared but not fully implemented a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (“SPCC”) plan, as required by the Clean Water Act. SPCC plans specify spill prevention and response measures at facilities that store oil above certain threshold amounts to help ensure that a tank failure or oil spill does not lead to oil reaching bodies of water.

More information:

- Federal oil spill prevention requirements (http://www.epa.gov/oilspill)

- Oil spill prevention in New England (http://www.epa.gov/ne/superfund/er/oilstor.htm)

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