Dec 22, 2014

New England Ski Resorts Must Enforce Oil Spill Prevention Plans

Eight ski companies fined for failing to comply with the federal Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations

Oil Spill Prevention, EPA Water, regulations, compliance, pollution control

New England ski resorts have a legal responsibility to create and implement updated oil spill prevention plans to be in compliance with federal oil pollution prevention laws. Adhering to “Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure” rules helps ensure that the local environment in the communities in which they operate are better protected from the potential of a damaging oil spill.

In recent years, several companies that own or operate ski resorts in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have agreed to pay penalties ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 to settle EPA allegations that they each violated federal laws meant to prevent oil spills. These settlements were reached under an expedited settlement program whereby EPA agreed to resolve these cases for reduced penalties with companies that were able to quickly correct violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations and had certain minimum storage capacity.

The Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules, which are part of the federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, provide requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness and response to prevent oil discharges to surface waters. These ski resorts store fuel at various locations around and on the mountains to fuel their snow-grooming and other equipment. Oftentimes, these storage tanks are not far from sensitive mountain streams and wetland areas. Furthermore, these tanks are often located in areas that subject them to harsh winter conditions. Having spill prevention plans in place increases the likelihood that if an accident occurs, spilled oil will be contained and cleaned up.

According to the settlements signed recently by EPA’s New England office, eight companies have previously paid penalties following EPA allegations that they had not complied with SPCC requirements:

A common characteristic of these eight individual cases is that all but one of these New England ski resorts had attempted to prepare and implement a SPCC plan, but had failed to maintain/update the plan, or had failed to implement key aspects such as appropriate secondary containment of oil-storage tanks. Following EPA’s actions against these New England ski resorts, all the facilities have come into compliance with the SPCC requirements of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.

All facilities that store oil in amounts above certain thresholds are required under the federal Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations to prepare and implement an SPCC plan detailing their oil spill prevention, preparedness and response measures to prevent the release of oil to our nation’s waterways.