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Hospitals in Maine and New Hampshire Are First to Sign Expedited Agreement for Violations of Oil Spill Prevention Laws

Release Date: 10/28/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov), EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2005; Release # dd051003

(Boston) - A hospital in Sanford, Maine and another in Exeter, N.H. have each agreed to pay $3,000 in penalties to resolve EPA claims that they had violated the federal Clean Water Act by not having proper plans in place to prevent oil spills.

Exeter Hospital and Goodall Hospital both agreed to these reduced penalties under an expedited settlement program of EPA's New England office. These settlements represent the first two times that EPA’s New England Office has negotiated an Expedited Settlement Agreement for a case involving violation of the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations of the federal Clean Water Act.

“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 regional office. “We do, however, appreciate such a quick response as we saw at these two hospitals, and for this reason were willing to consider reduced fines.”

The Expedited Settlement Agreement is designed to resolve easily correctable violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations detected during an EPA inspection. Under the terms of the agreement, the facility has the option to correct the violations and pay a reduced penalty. If the facility does not sign the agreement, EPA may pursue a more traditional enforcement action, likely resulting in higher penalties.

Facilities that can store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in above-ground tanks, or 42,000 gallons below ground, are required to have “Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure” plans, also known as SPCC plans, if it could reasonably be expected that a discharge of oil from the facility would directly or indirectly reach a body of water or its adjoining shoreline in a 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 both hospitals store oil in amounts above the thresholds requiring the preparation and implementation of an SPCC plan, EPA inspections revealed that they did not have such plans. Because of the relatively small quantity of oil stored at each hospital, and the fact that the hospitals had some secondary storage containment, 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.

For more information on environmental issues for hospitals in New England, visit: http://epa.gov/ne/healthcare/index.html .

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