HEBRON — While the cost to clean up more than 1,500 gallons of oil that leaked out of the Hebron Station School basement tank last December is unknown, the SAD 17 school district is not picking up the tab.

SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts and Jessamine Logan, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection, both said this week that it appears the C.N. Brown oil company of Paris has assumed full responsibility for the cleanup, which has been ongoing since late December 2012, when a C.N. Brown employee accidentally overfilled the school’s basement tank.

More than 1,500 gallons of oil leaked out of the school’s tank shortly after midnight on Dec. 25 as it was being filled by a driver from C.N. Brown. The accident caused the shutdown of the school for a week and overflow went into the nearby wetlands.

A total of 1,011 of the 1,516 gallons of oil spilled was recovered by mid-August when active recovery efforts ceased.

Violations of Maine’s environmental laws can warrant resolution by an Administrative Consent Agreement, which requires corrective actions by a violator and fines or court action. Logan said the DEP does not expect either to take action against the school district or C.N. Brown.

“C. N. Brown and the district have been good partners in the cleanup, and the district sought our assistance in evaluating their other oil storage facilities,” Logan said. “The district is already addressing the issues that have been identified, and we’ll continue to provide assistance.” 

Oil spill plans were developed during the winter, and the district oil tanks were evaluated after the DEP issued a 12-page report on the Christmas oil spill at Hebron Station School. The DEP recommended Oxford Hills School District officials develop and implement spill, prevention, control and countermeasure plans for above-ground oil storage tanks and containers in district facilities. The plans, which district officials said were never developed, are required under federal law because of the volume of oil stored.

While cleanup costs for the oil spill at the Hebron Elementary School may never be known, a previous spill at another SAD 17 elementary school cost nearly $45,000.

In 2011, more than 100 gallons of heating oil spilled into the grounds at the Otisfield Community School after someone cut copper tubing from an oil and propane tank. The bills for the cleanup and restoration in that spill amounted to $44,911.

The SAD 17 school district’s insurance covered most of the cleanup cost. Maine Department of Environmental Protection money paid for the small amount the school insurance did not pick up. The largest amount of money owed —$31,777 — was paid to Boom Technology, a 24-hour environmental emergency company based in Gorham.

C.N. Brown officials did not respond to an inquiry from the Sun Journal about cleanup costs at the Hebron Station School.

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