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Connecticut Oil Facility Faces EPA Fine for Lack of Oil Spill Plan

Release Date: 09/06/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Sept. 6, 2006) - A Connecticut oil storage and delivery company faces fines of up to $157,500 for allegedly failing to plan for and guard against oil spills at its facilities in Essex and Westbrook.

According to a complaint filed by EPA's New England office, Pennywise Oil Company, Inc. did not have "Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure" (SPCC) plans in place at either its main facility in Westbrook or its bulk tank farm in Essex, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.

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

EPA records show that Pennywise had two prior spills, in Nov. 2005 and Jan. 2006. Both spills were caused by overfilling tanks located at 137 Dennison Road, Essex. While ground water was impacted for both discharges, neither spill discharged to navigable waters. Both spills were reported to the National Response Center which prompted an inspection by EPA.

The Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Emergency Response Unit received the spill notifications from the company, and initiated emergency remediation activities to protect the surrounding environment.

The location of the Pennywise facilities means that spills could impact navigable waters. A spill occurring at the main facility could contaminate Cold Spring Brook, a tributary of the Long Island Sound, and a spill at the Essex tank farm could contaminate the Falls River, a tributary of the Connecticut River.

An EPA inspector identified the lack of SPCC plans at the facilities in February, 2006. The inspector noted that, in addition to not having a plan, the company had failed to construct containment around the three bulk storage tanks and associated transfer areas at the Dennison Road location. Pennywise faces a maximum penalty of $157,500.

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

More information:
Federal oil spill prevention requirements (
How EPA works in New England to prevent oil spills (

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