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EPA proposes fine of up to $137,500 against Portland company for violating Clean Water Act

Release Date: 08/12/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is proposing a penalty of up to $137,500 against a Portland, Maine hardware distribution company for an illegal discharge of oil last year and for failing to prepare a spill prevention plan.

According to the complaint filed this week, the Emery-Waterhouse Co. in August 2002 illegally discharged 2,900 gallons of oil, which reached a nearby brook, when it was transferring oil between tanks on its property. The Portland Fire Department and Maine Department of Environmental Protection were the first to respond to the spill after the fire department was notified of the spill by a citizen who smelled petroleum in the neighborhood.

Later that August, EPA's New England office inspected the facility and determined that the facility had no secondary containment for its 300-gallon above-ground storage tanks. These tanks were overfilled for about 26 hours, which led to the oil spill. The oil reached Nasons Brook, a tributary to the Fore River.

The inspection also found that the company had not prepared a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure plan, as required by the Clean Water Act. Emery used the oil to run machines and for heating.

"Emery's failure to create a plan for preventing and addressing oil spills damaged Maine's environment," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We hope this action will help the company and other oil handlers to be more vigilant in the future."