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EPA Informs New Hampshire and Vermont Schools About Oil Spill Risks and Proper Prevention Techniques

Release Date: 06/19/2007
Contact Information: Kathleen Nagle, EPA Public Affairs, (617) 918-1985

(Boston, Mass. – June 19, 2007 ) -- Recent oil spills occurring at schools have prompted EPA’s New England regional office to alert school officials in every city and town in New Hampshire and Vermont to the risks posed by improper oil storage and the potential for oil spill accidents from school heating and oil storage systems.

By providing this information, EPA hopes to assist schools to understand and implement spill prevention techniques. EPA’s letter also can help school officials ensure that their school(s) are in compliance with state and federal laws that pertain to oil storage.

Over the last several years there have been several highly publicized fuel oil spill incidents at public schools across New England. The most recent was at an elementary school in Saxtons River, Vermont. These incidents have resulted in the release of thousands of gallons of fuel oil into rivers, lakes and streams, resulting in damage to the environment, costly cleanups, and civil penalties for the affected school districts.

Given the recent incidence of oil spills at schools, EPA is sending information to all school systems in New England states, and will extend its outreach efforts to heighten awareness of oil spill and prevention requirements.

The federal Clean Water Act requires facilities that store over certain threshold amounts of oil to have spill prevention plans and adequate secondary containment at their storage tanks. States also have specific requirements pertaining to underground storage tanks.

EPA is committed to providing follow-up information that will broadly discuss environmental issues affecting schools in New England, including regulatory requirements and best practices and recommendations. To aid schools in identifying potential areas of concern at their facilities, future mailings will address issues such as: asbestos, lead-based paint, hazardous waste, indoor air quality, chemical selection and storage, radon, diesel bus exhaust and drinking water.

Schools are encouraged to consider conducting periodic full facility assessments of environmental issues. The EPA letter notes that these assessments are “the best way to identify, evaluate and prioritize environmental problems at school facilities.” New Hampshire is one of the first states in the country to customize software to help schools conduct facility assessments on environmental, health and safety issues and begin training schools and districts on use of this tool.

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