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News Releases from Region 03

EPA settlement with George Mason University will improve oil spill prevention and protect the Potomac River

Contact Information: 
Roy Seneca (seneca.roy@epa.gov)
(215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA (August 31, 2016) – The U.S. EPA announced today that George Mason University will pay a $20,964 penalty to settle alleged violations related to the discharge of fuel oil from a storage facility in Fairfax, Va. into a waterway that flows into the Potomac River.

EPA cited the University for violating the Clean Water Act’s prohibition on oil discharges to waterbodies and the Act’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan regulations.  The SPCC requirements are designed to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters, and adjoining shorelines, and to contain discharges of oil.

The university’s facility is located about one-half mile from an unnamed tributary of Rabbit Run, which flows through several tributaries and then into the Potomac River.  According to EPA, on Jan. 17, 2015, approximately 4,100 gallons of fuel oil was discharged from aboveground storage tanks, and an estimated 3,500 gallons entered a storm drain that empties into the unnamed tributary.

Following discovery of the spill, the university responded immediately and stopped additional downstream flow of the oil.  The university also quickly completed work on recovering oil and removing the contaminated soils.

As a part of the settlement, George Mason University has come into compliance with federal spill prevention requirements to better protect nearby waterways and possible downstream water supply intakes.  The penalty will be placed in the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and made available to fund future oil cleanups. 

For more information on oil spill prevention and preparedness see:

http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm .