$35,000 Fine for Cutting Oil Spill


Erickson Metals Corp., an aluminum processing company, has agreed to pay a $35,000 penalty to settle Environmental Protection Agency claims that it failed to prepare an oil spill prevention plan that could have prevented a cutting oil spill that damaged wildlife and nearby bodies of water at its Cheshire, Conn., facility in July 2006.

The agreement, announced Thursday, settles claims cited in a complaint filed by EPAs New England field office against the company, for illegally discharging as much as 6,000 gallons of cutting oil from its facility.

In August, EPA described the incident: The oil spill occurred when a water tank in the Cheshire facility ruptured, activating a sump pump that pumped the released water into a reservoir tank containing cutting oil. The oil tank subsequently overflowed, and oil traveled into a nearby pond, Judd Brook and the Tenmile River, oiling swans, geese and turtles as well as damaging aquatic vegetation. Oiled animals were subsequently captured and washed, and some were moved to a wildlife rehabilitation clinic before release.

EPA, the local fire department and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection responded to the scene of the spill. EPAs New England office determined the company had not prepared a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan, as required by the Clean Water Act. SPCC plans specify spill prevention and response measures at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts. After the spill, the facility worked cooperatively with EPA and prepared an SPCC plan.

With the spill prevention plans, probably the most significant aspect of them is that they require secondary containment around above-ground storage tanks, Jeff Kopf, senior enforcement counsel for EPA Region 1, told Lube Report. Often times a facility might not have that. Sometimes theyll have to do some construction on site to make sure that tanks are either double wall tanks, or that they have some sort of concrete berm around them or something like that.

Kopf said the plan also requires putting in place training to make sure staff knows how to respond to oil spills, making sure all phone numbers for key contacts are in place, and making sure there are regularly scheduled and documented inspections of tanks and piping. Companies typically implement the plans as soon as they have been certified by a professional engineer, he said, though very large sites sometimes need more time to carry out major construction projects as part of such plans.

These spill prevention control requirements have been on the books since the mid 1970s, Kopf said. Any facility that has above 1,320 gallons of oil stored in above- ground capacity should be implementing these plans. The Clean Water Act is a federal law, so it applies in every single state.

In August, EPA said the company faced a penalty of as high as $157,500. When we meet with the respondent, we get a better idea of what actually occurred and decide what the appropriate penalty would be be, Kopf explained.

Erickson supplies aluminum products in coil, sheet, plate, rod, bar, tube, extruded shapes and aluminum circles. Headquartered in Cheshire, Conn., it also has locations in Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota.

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