Manchester-based company faces $177,500 fine for oil spill

Posted Aug. 02, 2012, at 5:53 p.m.

BOSTON — A Manchester-based company faces up to $177,500 in fines for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint this week against J&S Oil Co. Inc. for failing to maintain and fully implement an oil spill prevention plan, which contributed to the release of 1,500 gallons of used motor oil from a tanker truck at the facility.

The oil spill, which occurred in March on Puddledock Road near the company’s Manchester headquarters, prompted an emergency response from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA. J&S Oil Co. hired an oil spill response company to contain the spilled oil and dispose of contaminated soils.

“EPA determined that the company had failed to fully maintain and implement its Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan, as required by the Clean Water Act,” read a statement released by the EPA on Thursday. “SPCC plans specify spill prevention measures at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts and help ensure that a tank failure or oil spill does not lead to oil reaching bodies of water.”

In its complaint EPA alleges that the company failed to provide for adequate secondary containment for some of the facility’s above-ground storage tanks and the tanker trucks parked at the facility, failed to provide secondary containment for the loading-unloading rack, failed to maintain adequate training records of oil-handling personnel in the operation and maintenance of equipment to prevent discharges and failed to provide adequate security for the facility.

Dave Deegan, spokesman for EPA New England, said $177,500 is the maximum fine allowed by law for such a spill.

“How the process goes at this point is the company could request a hearing or it may also decide to simply meet with us and possibly discuss a settlement,” Deegan said in a telephone interview.

The EPA considered a variety in factors in launching its complaint against J&S Oil, said Deegan.

“We look at a range of factors: what sort of environmental harm may have been caused, whether people’s health [was] put at risk and if anyone was hurt in the accident,” he said.

He said no one was hurt in the incident.

Deegan added that the EPA also looks at the economic profile of a company when imposing fines.

“We don’t try to put someone out of business if they can’t afford to pay,” said Deegan.

A representative from J&S Oil Co. didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

According to its website, J&S Oil has service stations and convenience stores in Auburn, Augusta, Farmingdale, Manchester, Topsham, Waterville and Winslow. It also operates two lube stations, two car washes and a wholesale fuels division, two home heating delivery and service offices and a self-serve pet wash.

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