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EPA Settles Oil Spill Prevention Law Violations with Four Maine Lobstering Facilities in Spruce Head

Release Date: 01/16/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Jan. 16, 2007) – Four lobstering facilities in Spruce Head, Maine have reached a settlement with EPA resolving violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Specifically, EPA alleged that the facilities did not have proper plans to prevent oil spills as required by the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations and fined each facility $3,000. The facilities subject to EPA’s actions are Maine Coast Seafood, McLoon’s Wharf, LLC, Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op and William Atwood Lobster Co.

EPA’s New England Office’s has recently been increasing the number of enforcement actions against facilities out of compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations though an expedited settlement program. The expedited settlement program is designed to resolve easily correctable violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations detected during an EPA inspection. If a facility chooses not to enter into an expedited settlement agreement with EPA, the Agency may pursue a more traditional enforcement action, likely resulting in higher penalties.

“All facilities, whether big or small, need to abide by the law requiring plans to prevent oil spills," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We do, however, appreciate efforts by facilities to quickly correct violations, and in these cases we are willing to resolve our enforcement action in an expedited manner."

Facilities which can store greater than 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground tanks or 42,000 gallons below ground, are required to have Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plans, also known as an SPCC plans, if it could reasonably be expected that a discharge of oil from the facility would reach a water of the United States or its adjoining shoreline considering a possible worst case scenario. The purpose of the SPCC program is to prevent spills before they happen, thus the need for a properly prepared and implemented plan is crucial to the success of the program.

Although all of the Spruce Head lobstering facilities store oil in amounts above the thresholds requiring the preparation and implementation of an SPCC plan, EPA inspections revealed that they did not have adequate plans. Because of the relatively small quantity of oil stored at the facilities, and the fact that the facilities had some secondary containment for their oil storage, which is a major requirement under the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, EPA decided to use expedited agreements to resolve the violations. The expedited settlement process for violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations has been used successfully in other EPA regions.

More information:
- Federal oil spill prevention requirements (epa.gov/oilspill/spcc.htm)
- How EPA works in New England to prevent oil spills (epa.gov/ne/superfund/er/oilstor.htm)

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