Rice Oil to Pay $15,000 for Violations

Improperly discharged heating oil

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- Retailer and heating oil supplier Rice Oil Co., Greenfield, Mass., has agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it discharged oil from an unmanned facility in Readsboro, Vt., into a nearby river, and failed to comply with federal regulations related to the bulk storage of oil, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

According to a settlement agreement filed recently, Rice Oil violated the Clean Water Act when it discharged 300 gallons of No. 2 heating oil from its facility [image-nocss] on Oct. 24, 2003, into the Deerfield River, upstream of the Sherman Reservoir. None of the oil could be recovered from the fast-moving river.

The spill was reported to the National Response Center and a subsequent EPA inspection determined Rice did not have an adequate Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure plan at the time, in violation of the agency's Oil Pollution Prevention regulations under the Clean Water Act.

In addition to the cash penalty, the company is correcting the deficiencies in its plan, and it will complete improvements to the facility by mid-summer.