Bangor City hazwaste violations settled with biodiesel

BANGOR, Maine, December 8, 2004 (ENS): The city of Bangor, Maine has agreed to pay a $59,586 penalty and to convert its entire fleet of vehicles to biodiesel fuel to resolve claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it violated hazardous waste and clean water laws at four of its facilities at the former Dow Air Force Base.

Under the agreement signed Monday, the city will pay $165,432 to convert its fleet to cleaner burning biodiesel made partially from soy beans. The city plans to buy about 458,000 gallons of biodiesel over the life of the project, which will cost $165,432 more than current diesel. The city was able to offset its penalty by that amount in order to pursue this project.

The violations were found after Bangor failed to participate in an environmental audit and self-disclosure initiative offered by EPA in 2001.

The settlement resolves EPA claims that Bangor improperly stored, handled and disposed of hazardous wastes. The EPA claims that Bangor failed to train personnel or have contingency plans at the city's Department of Public Works, motor pool, aviation fuel and Bangor International Airport facilities, in violation of federal and state hazardous waste standards.

The agreement also resolves an EPA claim that Bangor discharged untreated wastewater from its motor pool into a stream that flows to the Penobscot River, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Bangor did not have a permit to discharge from the facility.

The city has come into compliance with hazardous waste laws and has disconnected the illicit discharge from the motor pool facility.

In addition to paying a $59,586 penalty, the city's agreement to convert its diesel fleet to biodiesel will reduce emissions of hydrocarbons by 21 percent, of particulates by five to 10 percent and of carbon monoxide by 11 percent.

The project also has the added benefit of replacing non-renewable fossil fuels with a renewable agricultural-based fuel. The federal government's energy and environment policy has put a priority on converting diesel fleets to biodiesel.

The agreement may help encourage a stronger market for the alternative fuel in central and northern Maine, said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

"The settlement also develops a framework for future investigation and cleanup at this important site," Varney said.

The city has agreed to investigate jet fuel contamination of groundwater at the aviation fuel farm and along a pipeline that runs to the airport, under direction from the EPA.

The city is working with Maine Department of Environmental Protection to address potential leaks in the city's jet fuel distribution system and to evaluate cleanup alternatives.

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