AUBURN — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Cascades Auburn Fiber $65,000, saying Cascades violated the Clean Water Act and federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
EPA spokesman Jeff Kopf said the fines announced Monday stem from deficiencies spotted in an October 2012 inspection.
“We give the companies a little bit of time to address those (issues),” Kopf said. “Once we make sure they’re back in compliance, that’s when we move forward with the penalty part of it.”
A sister plant in Connecticut, Norampac New England, will pay a $100,000 fine, according to an EPA news release. Both fines were agreed to in a settlement between the EPA and the companies’ owner, Cascades USA, in which the company didn’t have to admit guilt.
Cascades Auburn Fiber employs 44 people and specializes in taking recycled paper and de-inking the pulp, according to Cascades USA’s website.
The inspection two years ago wasn’t triggered by a spill or anything specific, Kopf said.
The alleged Clean Water Act violations involved controls to minimize the potential for stormwater runoff into nearby Moose Brook, as well as taking regular water samples.
“The permit requires them to do benchmark monitoring, that’s monitoring for certain pollutants quarterly,” Kopf said. “They didn’t do all the monitoring they were supposed to; they didn’t do all the inspections they were supposed to.”
In addition, Kopf said any facility that stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil in tanks that could get to surface water in case of a spill has to maintain a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan.
“It minimizes the likelihood that if there is an accident, any oil is going to escape the site,” he said. “They did have an SPCC plan, but sort of like the Stormwater Pollution Prevention plan, it wasn’t being fully implemented. All the inspections weren’t being done; secondary containment wasn’t there for all the tanks that should have been there. They did address all of that after our inspection.”
Cascades USA spokesman Hugo D’Amours called it a matter of administrative noncompliance and said the company pays a lot of attention to the environment, using less water and recycling fiber when it can.
“There was record keeping, and there was documenting, and there was training given to the employees, but it was not done properly,” he said. “We came to an agreement with the EPA first of all, and, second, we have corrected all those things. We’re at full compliance right now.”