Martha’s Vineyard Oil Company Pays Penalty to Settle Clean Water Violations

A Vineyard Haven, Mass. petroleum storage and distribution company has agreed to pay a $78,000 fine for violating the federal Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.

RM Packer Inc. failed to adequately implement a “Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure” (SPCC) plan and did not sufficiently maintain proper containment for its tanks and loading rack. Upgrades required by the facility’s SPCC plan had not been implemented, including installing high level alarms and level monitors on tanks, installing secondary tank bottoms with corrosion protection, and testing tanks for soundness. Because the facility is located directly across from Vineyard Sound Harbor, these violations presented a significant threat of an oil spill into navigable water.

Following the original EPA inspection, the company submitted a schedule for coming into compliance, including upgrading its tanks and containment areas. When RM Packer fell behind schedule, EPA sent a letter to the company notifying the company that its oil tanks on Beach Road were still out of compliance with the SPCC regulations. Due to the company’s continued noncompliance, EPA subsequently issued an Administrative Order to RM Packer, requiring the company to comply with the storage tank requirements of the SPCC rule. Following continued delays to comply with the SPCC requirements, EPA initiated the current penalty action against the company.

Spill prevention and control laws help ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into drinking water wells, rivers or streams.

“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”

RM Packer has agreed to upgrade its facility and comply with the SPCC regulations. The company has poured concrete in the previously unpaved tank containment area, upgraded containment for other, smaller tanks, and installed high level alarms and corrosion protection for the active tanks. In addition, RM Packer is working with an engineer to update its SPCC plan.

EPA continues to focus on oil spill prevention in New England. In 2007, EPA conducted inspections at over 100 facilities in New England to determine their compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.

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