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Release Date: 11/25/1997
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- The New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Cape Cod Oil of Provincetown, Mass. that calls for the company to pay $33,937 for alleged federal Clean Water and Clean Air act violations stemming from the distributor's improper storage and supplying of petroleum fuels.

The penalty represents a nearly 30 percent reduction from the original figure because Cape Cod Oil performed a number of actions to correct its violations and prevent future recurrences.

"This announcement represents a well thought out, even-handed settlement that gives equal weight to Cape Cod Oil's violations and its efforts to correct them. When necessary, we're prepared to use our full enforcement authority to protect the Cape's groundwater supply and its air quality, but we are also pleased when a company steps up to the plate to correct its problems and 'do the right thing' environmentally. That's what happened here,"said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office.

The EPA is assessing a civil penalty of $20,182 to Cape Cod Oil for failing to prepare or amend a spill prevention control plan as required by the Clean Water Act for its Wellfleet, Harwich and Provincetown fuel storage facilities. An oil spill at any one of the company's storage areas could endanger Cape Cod's single-source aquifer and the quality of drinking water for thousands of residents.

In addition, the EPA is assessing a $13,125 penalty against the company for improperly selling high sulfur diesel to the municipalities of Brewster and Wellfleet for use in their motor vehicle fleets. Under the federal Clean Air Act, distributors are required to deliver low sulfur fuel -- containing .05 percent sulfur or less by weight -- to municipalities and others that dispense diesel for use in trucks, automobiles and other on-road vehicles. Use of high sulfur diesel in motor vehicles increases the emissions of small particulate matter, which can lead to severe lung problems and increases susceptibility to respiratory infection such as pneumonia, aggravation of acute and chronic bronchitis, and asthma.

The EPA reduced Cape Cod Oil's penalties for the company's cooperation and willingness to settle this case promptly, and the actions it has taken to correct its violations. Since being notified of the violations, Cape Cod Oil has removed and replaced all high sulfur diesel fuel; replaced faulty piping at the Provincetown facility to prevent future inadvertent cross contamination between high sulfur and low sulfur diesel fuel; and prepared new or amended spill prevention control plans for all of its storage facilities.

EPA investigators initially discovered the improperly delivered high sulfur diesel while inspecting a municipal fuel pump in Brewster that receives its diesel from Cape Cod Oil. Subsequent investigations found high sulfur diesel in three fuel pumps owned and operated by the town of Wellfleet, which also contracts with Cape Cod Oil for fuel for its municipal fleet vehicles. The investigators then referred the case to the EPA's oil spill enforcement office, which learned that the company had no spill prevention plans whatsoever for its Harwich and Provincetown facilities, and an outdated spill prevention plan for Wellfleet.