For Immediate Release
October 3, 2013
K. Allen Brooks, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Attorney General Joseph A. Foster and N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas S. Burack announced today that the Rockingham County Superior Court approved a settlement between the State and the defendants, Pier People LLC and Spenser Epperson, for violations associated with Pier People's underground storage tank (UST) system and fueling operations. The violations occurred at the Wentworth by the Sea Marina in Newcastle. The settlement assesses a penalty of $50,000. Of this total amount, $15,000 will be permanently suspended provided the marina has no further violations.
The State alleged that the defendants unlawfully altered their UST system to engage in "fast fueling." To accommodate "fast fueling," the defendants altered the pipes leading from the UST to boats docking at the marina to accommodate additional fuel dispensed directly from a fuel truck. The combined capacity of the UST and the fuel truck allowed boats to be fueled more quickly; however, the alterations effectively bypassed some of the required safety systems, thus increasing the risk of uncontrolled releases of petroleum to the State's waters. Pier People LLC admits that it committed the violations but disputes the State's facts, claiming that the violations resulted from miscommunication. DES had previously emailed the defendants stating that the UST alterations were in "direct violation of New Hampshire regulations."
No fuel was spilled at the marina as a result of the "fast fueling" alterations, and the evidence indicates that actual fueling may only have occurred once using that system. Nevertheless, Attorney General Foster stated, "We cannot put human health and the environment at risk. We are fortunate that nothing was spilled this time and we are going to make sure that this type of behavior does not occur in the future at this or any other facility in New Hampshire." DES Commissioner Tom Burack stated, "DES encourages all fueling system operators to review their setups to ensure that they fully comply with all existing regulatory standards, and to consult with DES prior to undertaking any fueling system modifications in the future. DES is committed to working closely with fuel system operators to help ensure that they can operate their systems to meet their customers' needs while also protecting the environment and public health and safety."
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