Colebrook oil firm faces $157k fine

The Peter Nugent Motor Company of Colebrook may have to pay up to $157,500 in fines for allegedly failing to plan for oil spills in violations as far back as 1997.

According to a complaint filed Monday by the New England office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company did not have a “Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure” plan in place at its petroleum bulk storage and distribution facility, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.

Nugent sells No. 2 distillate, gasoline and propane to retail customers.

Inspectors from EPA and the state Department of Environmental Services found the Nugent plant did not construct “adequate secondary containment around its aboveground storage tanks, truck off-loading area, and loading rack, leading to a risk of a spill to surface waters in the event of discharges during transfer operations or from equipment failure,” according to the EPA.

The complaint centered on violations occurring between Jan. 31, 1997, and March 14, 2004, with fines up to $11,000 per violation per day for each day during which the violation continues, up to a maximum of $137,500; and, for violations occurring on or after March 15, 2004, up to $11,000 per violation per day for each day during which the violation continues, up to a maximum of $157,500.

The agencies also had concerns that spills could contaminate the Connecticut River.

The company also was cited for allegedly failing to respond to the EPA’s request for more information about the Colebrook facility.

It’s not the first time Peter Nugent Motor has had a dealings with federal agencies.

On Oct. 16, 1996, Nugent filed an exception with the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the U.S. Department of Energy to be “relieved of the requirement” that it file a Resellers’/Retailers’ Monthly Petroleum Product Sales Report.

The report was a survey the DOE would send to a small number of companies to collect information on the supply and prices of petroleum products.

Nugent contended that it had been filing the reports at that time for two years and that it had to pay an employee overtime wages to complete the survey outside of the scope of her normal duties , placing a burden on the firm.

The company’s request for an exception was denied by the DOE in Feb. 11, 1997. — CINDY KIBBE

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