Logan Airport Oil Storage Facility Operators Fined for Inadequate Oil Spill Training

BOSFuel Corp. and Swissport Fueling, Inc., operators of an oil storage facility at Boston’s Logan Airport, will pay a $90,000 penalty for failing to take adequate precaution to contain oil spills.  The Logan facility is operated by BOSFuel, a consortium of major airlines, and has an oil storage capacity of over seven million gallons. Swissport Fueling operates the facility on a day-to-day basis.

In a Sept. 2011 complaint, EPA asserted that the companies had not properly prepared for possible oil spills at the Logan facility in violation of federal oil pollution prevention regulations issued under the Clean Water Act.  These Facility Response Plan (FRP) regulations require certain facilities, such as the one at Logan, to have a response plan for containing and cleaning up an oil release.

EPA’s action stemmed from a May 2011 unannounced exercise at the facility carried out by EPA, the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) and the U.S. Coast Guard. The objective of this exercise - a simulated oil spill - was to determine whether a facility can successfully respond to an oil release.  As a result of the exercise, EPA determined that the companies were unable to properly implement the facility’s FRP and its personnel were not adequately trained, resulting in an “unsuccessful” overall rating for the exercise.

Since EPA filed its action, the companies have worked cooperatively with EPA, as well as the USCG and Mass DEP to correct the deficiencies noted during the exercise.

Federal law requires that facilities that have the potential for spills take every step possible to prevent, before they occur, oil discharges to the nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans through implementation of Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) plans.  Any facility with more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground oil storage capacity and meeting certain other criteria must develop and implement SPCC plans to prevent and contain spills, such as by installing impervious secondary containment around storage tanks and transfer areas.  Facilities also need to know how to react to a spill to minimize environmental damage when one does occur.  The FRP regulations require response planning and spill preparation especially for facilities with more than one million gallons of storage capacity. To ensure that a facility can adequately response to a spill, it must have adequate employee training, spill response equipment, and a contingency plan for containing and cleaning up a release.

While EPA’s action against the Logan Airport oil storage operators is not based on an actual oil release but on the unsuccessful May 2011 unannounced exercise, other facilities should be aware that EPA will continue to pay unannounced visits to conduct simulated spill exercises at facilities throughout New England.