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Downeast Maine Blueberry Processor Fined for Environmental Violations

Release Date: 03/28/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – March 28, 2007) - A blueberry processing facility in Machias, Maine will pay more than $20,000 under the terms of a settlement in which EPA alleged that the company failed to plan adequately for and guard against oil spills, and failed to notify emergency response agencies about hazardous chemicals stored at the facility.

The processor, Maine Wild Blueberry Co., is a subsidiary of a Canadian company called Oxford Frozen Foods. The Downeast facility is located on 30 acres abutting the Machias River, and includes four above-ground oil storage tanks and numerous 55-gallon drums, in which more than 11,000 gallons of oil is stored. An EPA inspection discovered that Maine Wild Blueberry Co. had not prepared and implemented a "Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure" (SPCC) plan for the facility, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.

“Spill prevention and control laws help ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into rivers, streams, or private wells,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

EPA’s inspection also identified that the facility includes a refrigeration system that contains 8,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. In addition, the facility stored greater than 10,000 pounds of oil. Storing this amount of a potentially hazardous substances requires submitting “Tier II” forms by March 1st of every year with state and local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”). The company failed to submit its Tier II forms for the 2005 calendar year. This information can be critical to emergency responders identifying how to protect public health and their own safety, should there be an incident at the facility.

The fine for the SPCC violation is $5,000. The fine for the EPCRA violation is $15,730.

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