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Town of Newtown Faces Fine Of Up To $32,500 For Oil Spill From School

Release Date: 03/30/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865,

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2005; Release # sr050317

BOSTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a penalty of up to $32,500 against the town of Newtown, Conn., for violating the federal Clean Water Act during an oil spill at a school building in December.

The complaint against Newtown stems from an oil spill at the Reed Intermediate School in December, when an underground storage tank at the school released 4,000 gallons of No. 2 heating oil. About 100 gallons of oil flowed along a trench containing a sewer line and entered Deep Brook and the Pootatuck River. The release was caused by a leaking pipe connecting the underground tank to the school’s boilers. The Deep Brook is designated a Class A water and is one of only eight Class 1 Wild Trout Management Areas in the state.

EPA was informed of the leak after the Newtown Fire Department notified the Conn. Department of Environmental Protection on Dec 29 that there was a sheen of oil on the Pootatuck River. The fire department and DEP traced the soil back to the school’s 20,000-gallon tank. The town has hired contractors to clean up the site.

“If you’re a municipality in New England, you need to make sure all of your facilities – schools, public works garages, and water treatment plants – are maintained and meeting environmental standards,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “Municipalities, just like a business, will be held accountable by EPA when oil spills or similar problems occur.”

This case follows two other complaints recently filed by EPA against municipalities that have had oil spill from school facilities. In June, EPA filed an administrative complaint against the town of Belmont, Mass., for an oil spill from an elementary school when an underground storage tank released 2,500 gallons of No. 4 heating oil, a portion of which flowed through storm drains into a local pond.

EPA also filed a case against the town of West Springfield, Mass. in January 2004 when a fuel line connecting an underground storage tank to a boiler in West Springfield High School failed, causing 4,000 gallons of oil to flow into a local brook.

EPA New England has in the past several years devoted significant enforcement and compliance assistance resources to municipalities including public works departments and school buildings. In addition to fines and enforcement actions, EPA has produced assistance materials, held workshops, and met with municipal officials about improving their environmental performance. Information on environmental compliance for schools is available at

Related Informaiton:
Oil Spills/SPCC Enforcement Program
Clean Water Act