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Vermont Oil Distributor Settles Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 10/11/2011
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – October 11, 2011) A Vermont company that stores a significant amount of oil has agreed to pay $52,000 to settle claims by the EPA that it violated the federal Clean Water Act.

According to the settlement, Rowley Fuels of Milton, Vt. failed to take adequate precautions meant to prevent and contain oil spills.

Specifically, EPA alleged that Rowley Fuels failed to adequately prepare and maintain a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plan, known as an SPCC plan, at the company’s Alburgh, Vt. facility. The complaint was based on an inspection by EPA staff. Because of the facility’s proximity to surface waters and a municipal stormwater drain system, which both drain into Lake Champlain, a fuel-oil spill at the facility could result in fuel-oil being discharged into Lake Champlain. The company has since come into compliance with SPCC requirements.

Every year, thousands of gallons of oil are spilled from oil storage facilities, polluting New England waters. Even small oil spills can cumulatively have an adverse effect on aquatic life and on public and private property. Because discharges from these facilities are often to small streams and rivers that have little to no dilution capabilities, the harm can be great. SPCC plans are critical to ensuring that such spills are prevented and, if they do occur, are adequately addressed.

Federal law requires facilities that have the potential for spills take every step possible to prevent, before they occur, oil discharges to the nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans through putting in place SPCC plans. Any facility with more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground oil storage capacity and meeting certain other criteria must develop and put in place SPCC plans to prevent and contain spills, including installing non-porous containment around storage tanks.

The law recognizes that it is equally important that facilities know how to minimize environmental damage when spills do occur, and therefore requires response planning and spill preparation. To ensure that a facility can adequately respond to a spill, it must have adequate employee training and spill response equipment.

More information: SPCC Requirements (http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm)

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