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New Hampshire Oil Distributor Agrees to Pay $200,000 Penalty for Distributing Illegal Fuel

Release Date: 09/21/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - An Antrim, NH, oil distributor has agreed to pay $200,000 in civil penalties to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice that the company violated federal environmental regulations as the result of the sale and delivery of diesel and fuel that did not comply with federal law.

EPA and DOJ filed a civil complaint and a consent decree this week in US District Court in New Hampshire against Rymes Heating Oils Inc. and its president, James Rymes. According to the complaint, Rymes sold or dispensed diesel fuel on at least 13 occasions containing levels of sulfur above the limits allowed by the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Also according to the complaint, Rymes sold or dispensed gasoline that did not meet CAA requirements for ozone prevention in areas of New Hampshire where federal law required reformulated gasoline or "RFG."

The allegations state that the diesel fuel deliveries resulted in Rymes repeatedly causing or allowing the introduction of noncomplying high sulfur diesel into motor vehicles during 1996 and 1997 and that Rymes knew, or should have known of the high sulfur content in the fuel. The complaint alleges that Rymes delivered noncomplying "conventional" gas rather than RFG from January 1995 when the RFG standards went into effect through June 1997. The complaint also alleges that Rymes knew, or should have known, that those gasoline deliveries were in violation of RFG requirements.

"The federal government regulates the kind of fuel that can be used in motor vehicles because of the significant impact cars and trucks can have on creating air pollution,"said Mindy S. Lubber, Regional Administrator for EPA New England. "High sulfur diesel fuel in motor vehicles, for instance, can cause foul smoke and air pollution. This penalty settlement should ensure that companies handling fuel take these environmental requirements seriously."

High sulfur diesel fuel contains a concentration of sulfur over .05 percent by weight. The CAA diesel regulations have been operating to reduce pollution from sulfur and particulates since October 1993. Rymes, which owns and operates a gasoline, diesel fuel and fuel oil distribution company in Antrim, also owns and operates six retail gasoline outlets in New Hampshire. The company, which has denied the allegations, agreed to pay the penalty within 30 days of the entry of the agreement or to face further penalties.