Boston, Mass. -- A Maine-based railroad has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle EPA claims that it violated the Clean Water Act and federal regulations designed to prevent oil spills from reaching waterways.
Bangor-based Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway operates a locomotive repair and maintenance facility in Milo, Maine, which has a total storage capacity of almost 108,000 gallons of oil. According to EPA, a railway employee on Oct. 2, 2009, left a fuel transfer unattended in the Milo facility’s boiler room. The facility’s secondary containment failed to prevent fuel oil from spilling onto the boiler room’s grated floor. The fuel oil travelled underground and eventually reached the Piscataquis River.
The railway discovered the oil overflow the evening of Oct. 2 and on Oct. 3 alerted the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the National Response Center and EPA. The oil spill caused a noticeable, but temporary sheen on the Piscataquis River. The railway hired an oil spill response company and worked with DEP to contain and cleanup the oil spill. Subsequently, the railway worked with EPA to come into compliance with spill prevention regulations.
According to a complaint filed by EPA’s New England office, the railway violated the Clean Water Act by discharging a harmful quantity of oil into the Piscataquis River, and for failing to fully maintain and implement a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan, as required by the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Prevention regulations. These oil spill prevention regulations require that specific preventative measures be taken at facilities that store more than 1,320 gallons of oil, and could reasonably be anticipated to release oil products into nearby surface waters or shorelines. These regulations help ensure that tank failures or accidental spills do not lead to oil contamination of surface waters, such as rivers or streams, which could harm human and ecological health.
“Because oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, it’s very important that facilities handling and storing oil do everything possible to minimize the risk of oil spills,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s much easier and less expensive to prevent pollution before it occurs.”