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EPA Proposes Fine for Clean Air Act Violations by Cumberland Farms

Release Date: 11/08/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has issued a complaint against Cumberland Farms, Inc. for violations of the federal Clean Air Act at 80 of its gasoline stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The administrative complaint against the Canton, Mass.-headquartered company seeks a total of $557,844 in penalties. Prior to this penalty action, the company was issued two notices of violations in this case December 1998 and February 2001.

Cumberland Farms operates more than 1,000 retail stores and gas stations in New England and Florida. EPA reviewed five years of testing records for 50 Cumberland Farms gas stations in Massachusetts and inspected 40 of the company's gas stations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

EPA's investigation found that between 1995 and 2000, Cumberland Farms did not comply with federally-enforceable state requirements for testing, record-keeping and reporting, employee training and maintenance of vapor recovery equipment.

"These requirements are a very important component in cutting down the amount of smog-causing compounds that are released into the air in New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "This year in New England there were 31 days when the air quality was bad because of smog. Companies like Cumberland Farms need to do everything they can to help put an end to bad air quality days."

EPA determined that Cumberland Farms' violations resulted in 10 tons of excess emissions of gasoline vapor into the air because the company in many cases did not have properly operating vapor recovery systems. Gasoline vapors are volatile organic compounds which, in the presence of light and heat, form ground-level ozone, or smog.

This case is part of an initiative taken in partnership with the Massachusetts environmental officials. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted investigations of several other gas dispensing companies, including Cumberland Farms, in the state. EPA New England agreed to take the Cumberland Farms case because the company operates in three New England states.

"DEP and EPA are committed to protecting our air quality and holding those who violate air quality regulations accountable," said Massachusetts DEP Commissioner Lauren A. Liss. "Today's action demonstrates how close cooperation between our agencies achieves real environmental results."

Varney added that one of the cornerstones of EPA New England's enforcement philosophy is close cooperation with the six states in the region.

"We've worked closely with New England's environmental enforcement officials in the past and that cooperation will be strengthened in the future. And this case with Cumberland Farms is an excellent example of how cooperation with the states has resulted in improvements to the environment," he said.

Varney noted that recent inspections show that since the 1998 violation notice, Cumberland Farms' performance with regard to these environmental violations has improved.

For more information, visit EPA air enforcement Web site:
www.epa.gov/region01/compliance/enfair.html

and EPA's ozone Web site: www.epa.gov/region01/topics/air/airquality.html