Chevron Faces Big Fine for Tank Farm Leaks

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 02:07 PM gHale

Accepting no responsibility for the act, Chevron Corp. will pay a $900,000 fine to Maine to settle claims an estimated 140,000 gallons of oil leaked from one of its oil tank farm into the Penobscot River decades ago, state officials said.

The penalty is the largest fine imposed by state regulators in 20 years, but Chevron accepted no responsibility or wrongdoing under a consent decree. Officials said as part of an ongoing site cleanup they have removed 2,800 tons of oil-contaminated sediment and 10,000 gallons of oil.

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In a statement, San Ramon, CA-based Chevron said it remains committed to meeting its responsibilities at the site. It said it agreed to resolve the matter to avoid protracted litigation.

The agreement focuses on the tank farm and two marine terminals owned by Chevron and Texaco. Chevron, one of the world’s largest oil companies, now owns Texaco.

Chevron said it operated its tank farm and marine terminal in Hampden between the 1950s and 1986, when Cumberland Farms Inc. purchased the Gulf Oil brand assets for the Northeast, which included the terminal and tank farm. Cumberland Farms is not a part of the contamination case. The tank farm and oil terminal closed in 1996, according to a Cumberland Farms spokeswoman.

State officials said more than 140,000 gallons of oil spilled at the Chevron and Texaco sites for decades into the 1980s, and the oil then discharged and continues to discharge at a slow rate into the river.

Under the agreement, $380,000 of the settlement will go into Maine’s oil spill cleanup fund to help pay for spill cleanups around the state. The remaining $520,000 will go toward a riverside public park and boat launch in Hampden.

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