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Derby, Vermont Company Faces Fine for Oil Spill Prevention Violations

Release Date: 10/24/2007
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 24, 2007) - A plumbing and heating company that stores and distributes oil from its bulk storage facility in Derby, Vermont faces fines of up to $157,500 for allegedly failing to adequately plan for and guard against oil spills at its facility.

Earlier this year on Feb. 27, approximately 5,000 gallons of gasoline was released from a 25,000 gallon double-compartment above-ground storage tank at the Fred’s Plumbing & Heating bulk plant located on Route 5 in Derby. During the clean-up response, it was revealed that spilled gasoline had migrated beyond the secondary containment walls and floor surrounding the tank and contaminated soil and groundwater on the facility grounds.

The Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) responded to the spill and is continuing to oversee the ongoing remediation and investigation to categorize the extent of the release and recover the discharged oil. Efforts continue to evaluate the threat posed by the release to a tributary of the John’s River, located approximately 200 feet southwest of the spill area, and to two nearby drinking water wells, which are located within 1,000 feet of bulk plant.

EPA’s Administrative Complaint alleges that the company violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to have an adequate "Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure" plan in place at its facility. EPA’s Oil Pollution Prevention regulations require that certain spill prevention and response measures be implemented at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts. The rule helps ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into surface waters, such as rivers or streams, or groundwater.

An inspector from EPA’s New England office and a representative from VTDEC inspected the Derby facility and found that the company had failed to fully implement an adequate spill prevention plan for the site. In particular, the company failed to construct sufficiently impervious secondary containment for the oil storage containers, loading rack, and other fuel transfer areas.

“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, including to surface waters and drinking water supplies,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”

EPA has been focusing on oil spill prevention in New England. The complaint against Fred’s Plumbing & Heating is one of many undertaken by EPA during the past 18 months to ensure that facilities that store oil have fully implemented SPCC plans at their facilities.

More information:

- New England oil spill prevention (epa.gov/ne/superfund/er/oilstor.htm)
- National oil spill prevention (epa.gov/oilspill)