OLD TOWN, Maine — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that the owners of Old Town Fuel & Fiber have agreed to pay a civil fine after an investigation of wastewater and stormwater discharge violations at the local pulp mill.
Red Shield Acquisition LLC, which operates the mill, agreed to pay a $126,000 fine to resolve the claims that it violated the terms of its wastewater and stormwater permits in violation of the Clean Water Act, according to a statement from EPA spokesman David Deegan.
“On Aug. 1, 2011 at approximately 11:36 p.m. [Old Town Fuel & Fiber] discharged approximately 50,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from the pump house to the Penobscot River when the emergency diesel pump failed to start during an electrical storm,” the EPA complaint states.
About 30 minutes later, at 12:20 a.m. Aug. 2, 2011, the pump failed again and an additional 40,000 gallons of untreated wastewater went into the river, according to the complaint.
“The company cooperated with EPA throughout its investigation, and since EPA’s complaint was filed in August 2012, the company has completed some work and pledged to complete additional work to fix the problems identified at the facility,” Deegan said.
The EPA alleged that Red Shield violated the terms and conditions of permits issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection when it failed to properly operate and maintain all components of the wastewater treatment system at the facility. The EPA also alleged that Red Shield failed to adequately maintain control measures put in place to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharges from the facility and failed to properly prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the site.
“Without on-site controls, runoff from pulp mills can flow directly to the nearest waterway and can have significant effects on water quality and the aquatic ecosystem, including effects on oxygen demand, interference with photosynthesis, and disruption to the aquatic food chain,” Deegan said.
Attempts to reach Red Shield and Old Town Fuel & Fiber on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of process wastewater in violation of the terms and conditions of a permit and requires that industrial facilities, such as pulp mills, have controls in place to minimize pollutants from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. Each site must have a stormwater pollution prevention plan that sets guidelines and best management practices that the company will follow to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants.
Red Shield also violated the federal Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations by failing to fully maintain and implement its spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plan, the press release states.