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Plotts Oil to Pay $42,500 for Lack of Spill Prevention

Release Date: 7/6/2000
Contact Information: Ruth Wuenschel, (215) 814-5540

Ruth Wuenschel, 215-814-5540

SPRING CITY, Pa. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Plotts Oil of Royersford, Pa. will pay a $42,500 penalty to settle alleged oil spill prevention violations at its home heating oil facility in Spring City, Pa.

The requirements are necessary to prevent oil spills from the company’s
1.6-million-gallon oil tank located about 1,000 feet from Spring Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River.

“Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to oil spills, a much more cost-effective and efficient way of protecting the environment, rather than paying for clean-ups after the fact” said Bradley Campbell, EPA’s administrator for the mid-Atlantic region. “Sometimes it takes enforcement to convince oil companies to see it this way.”

The spill prevention rules under the Clean Water Act require, among other things, preparation of an adequate spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan, installation of leak-tight barriers to contain the entire contents of the tank, use of fail-safe tanks, installation of adequate lighting and fencing to prevent vandalism and detect spills at night, and performance of inspections, record keeping and spill prevention training.

EPA alleged that vegetation and debris had reduced the capacity of the leak-tight barriers for the 1.6 million gallon tank. EPA also cited the company for gaps between the tank bottom and its foundation, and lack of inspections, record keeping, fencing and lighting, and employee training on spill prevention requirements. The company corrected most of the violations after receiving a notice of noncompliance from EPA. EPA sought penalties for Plotts’ failure to install adequate lighting and fencing, a violation that was not corrected, pending township zoning approvals.

The Clean Water Act also requires owners of large fuel storage facilities to prepare a facility response plan for responding to a worst-case scenario oil spill. The Plotts facility is subject to this requirement, because of the size of its oil tank and proximity to the environmentally sensitive Schuylkill River area. According to EPA, the facility was required to file its plan by August 1994, but did not file the plan until December 1998. EPA sought penalties for this violation.

Plotts Oil has agreed to pay a penalty of $42,500 to settle these violations. In addition, as part of the settlement, the company has agreed to spend $30,000 on spill prevention measures, including installation of a high-level alarm and pump cut-off system, tank inspection, and a study of the permeability of the secondary containment area. The company has also agreed to seek approval from East Vincent Township to install additional lighting and fencing at the facility.

With billions of gallons of oil in storage throughout the U.S. at any time, oil spills pose a constant threat to land and water resources. Spill prevention regulations are designed to reduce the serious health and environmental risks of oil and petroleum product leaks.