Pan Am facing hefty EPA fines in Waterville

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a $375,000 fine for Pan Am Railways for alleged environmental law violations at its Waterville rail yard.

The Portland Press Herald reported that EPA filed an administrative complaint against the North Billerica, Massachusetts-based company on January 30, alleging that Pan Am violated the federal Clean Water Act by dumping polluted water into the Kennebec River and not maintaining a prevention plan concerning the mitigation of potential oil spills.

Pan Am's 100-acre rail yard along College Avenue is used for locomotive refueling, and to repair, maintain and build locomotives and freight cars. EPA conducted regular inspections of the facility from 2011 to 2014, and discovered that Pan Am's stormwater pollution prevention plan did not meet federal or state standards, resulting in water discharge from seven different outfalls into a local river. The pollutants contained in the runoff included chemical and industrial waste, as well as biological materials, rock and sand.

According to the EPA, Pan Am failed to perform "good housekeeping procedures." The company allegedly kept debris piles outside without implementing structural controls, had visibly oil-stained ground throughout the site, and failed to repair industrial equipment. 

The complaint states that the failure to "maintain and fully implement an adequate SPCC plan leaves a facility unprepared to deal with an oil spill and to prevent a spill from having potentially serious consequences."

Cynthia Scarano, a Pan Am executive vice president, told the Portland Press Herald that the company neither denies nor admits the violations alleged by the EPA. Pan Am has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

Environmental consultants help companies in a variety of industries conduct regular assessments to ensure they are in compliance with federal and state laws.