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Truax Oil, Inc. to pay over $137,000 EPA penalty for 2006 oil spill near Roseburg, Oregon

Release Date: 09/17/2008
Contact Information: Jennifer Fitchorn, EPA Compliance Officer, (206) 553-2710, fitchorn.jennifer@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Seattle, Wash. September 17, 2008) On September 12, 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lodged a Consent Decree in federal court to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) by Truax Oil, Inc. (Truax). Truax is a petroleum marketer based in Corvallis, Oregon. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the United States, the State of Oregon and Truax have agreed to a $137,500 penalty.

According to court papers, the United States government alleged that the CWA violations occurred on March 11, 2006, when a tanker truck owned and operated by Truax struck a guardrail, overturned and caught fire, resulting in the release of approximately 11,000 gallons of fuel (9,000 gal of gasoline and 2,000 gal of diesel). The incident occurred on US Hwy 5 near Roseburg, Oregon. Fuel was released to the ground and entered a tributary to Robert’s Creek and the South Fork of the Umpqua River, which provides habitat for cutthroat trout.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded at the request of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ). A Unified Command Structure was formed on March 11th and was composed of representatives from Truax, First Strike Environmental, USEPA, ODEQ, ODOT and the Oregon State Police. EPA responders were on site for about a week cleaning up the spill.

EPA and ODEQ coordinated together to pursue enforcement on this case. The full penalty is $137,500 with $20,000 going to the State of Oregon for violating its oil discharge prohibition. In the Consent Decree, Truax is to pay the United States $117,500 and the State $20,000 for a total penalty of $137,500.

“We were pleased having the State of Oregon participate with EPA on this case and appreciated their cooperation in this joint enforcement action,” said Mike Bussell, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. "We hope this fine will serve as a warning to companies transporting and handling oil and other hazardous substances that every possible precaution must be taken so these kinds of incidents don't occur.”

Truax was cooperative throughout the entire cleanup and hired cleanup contractors to conduct removal and mitigation efforts. Roughly 11,123 tons of petroleum contaminated soil was removed from the spill site. Truax spent over $2 Million on the cleanup and mitigation efforts.

The settlement will be subject to a public comment period and approval by the court before it becomes final.

For more information about reporting an oil spill, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/webpage/Spill+Reporting
to learn more about EPA's Oil Spill programs, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill