Seattle, Wash., January 6, 2009 : On Wednesday, December 31, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lodged a Consent Decree in federal court to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act by Pacific Northern Environmental Corporation(PNE), of Longview, Washington. The settlement, lodged on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), involves an oil spill that took place near Scottsburg, Oregon, in 2006.
As lodged, the settlement includes a penalty of $94,272 and a supplemental environmental project (SEP) worth over $47,000. The alleged violations occurred when a tanker truck, owned and operated by PNE, veered off U.S. Highway 38 near Scottsburg, Oregon, rolled down the embankment and spilled about 8,200 gallons of diesel fuel. The fuel was released to the shoreline of the Umpqua River, which is a designated National Wild and Scenic River. The Umpqua provides habitat for a variety of fish species including Chinook salmon, Coho Salmon and cutthroat trout. The Oregon State Police cited the driver for careless driving.
In addition to the Company’s response contractors, EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality were on site for about a week cleaning up the spill.
Of the full penalty of $94,272, $20,000 is going to the State of Oregon for violation of the state’s oil discharge prohibition and the balance going to the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. In addition, PNE will spend over $47,000 on a Supplementary Environmental Project (SEP). The SEP will include the purchase of gas detectors and other equipment for the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Hazmat Teams Program. The monitors will help first responders determine the proper response to hazardous materials releases and reduce response times.
"Companies that handle and transport petroleum products on Oregon roads need to take extra care around Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Umpqua," said Mike Bussell, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. "We realize that accidents happen, but spilling oil in and around Oregon rivers can result in penalties, regardless of cause."
According to EPA authorities, PNE was cooperative throughout the entire cleanup and promptly hired cleanup contractors to conduct removal and mitigation efforts. Roughly 1,469 tons of petroleum contaminated soil was removed from the spill site. According to the Company, PNE spent over $600,000 on the cleanup and mitigation efforts.
The settlement will be subject to a public comment period and approval by the court before it becomes final.