Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pan Am Faces $350,000 EPA Fine for Waterville ME Railyard Violations

(SOURCE:  Portland Press Herald)

WATERVILLE — Pan Am Railways is facing up to $375,000 in fines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly violating the federal Clean Water Act at the company’s Waterville railyard.

In an administrative complaint filed against the company on Jan. 30, the EPA charged that Pan Am failed to comply with the terms of a state-issued stormwater permit and discharged water containing pollutants into the Kennebec River and failed to maintain and implement a control and prevention plan to mitigate possible oil spills at the facility.

The North Billerica, Mass.-based company’s 100-acre rail yard along College Avenue is used to refuel locomotives and repair, maintain and build locomotives and freight cars. According to company officials, it has a 110,000-gallon storage capacity for diesel, heating fuel, oil lubricant and waste oil. Nearly half the storage is in two 25,000-gallon diesel tanks.

In its complaint, the EPA contends that Pan Am’s stormwater pollution prevention plan was inadequate, and as a result, water discharged from seven different outfalls into the Kennebec River contained pollutants including chemical waste, biological materials, rock, sand and industrial waste.
EPA conducted annual inspections since 2011 with the last inspection on Aug. 22.

The company was required to comply with Maine’s “multi-sector general permit for industrial stormwater,” a statewide regulation that provides rules for operating industrial facilities.

Even though the permit is administered through the state, the federal EPA has jurisdiction in an enforcement action, said Maine Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Karl Wilkins.
According to EPA, Pan Am failed to describe all its control measures and best management practices to prevent polluted runoff, did not “perform good housekeeping procedures” — such as keeping debris piles outside without structural controls, oil-stained ground throughout the site, and oil sheens in catch-basins — failed to maintain and repair industrial equipment and systems and did not include a map with the sites of its structural control measures and stormwater conveyance system on its pollution prevention plan.

The complaint names Pan Am and two of its subsidiary railroads, the Maine Central and Springfield Terminal Railways.

“EPA is alleging that the storm water discharges were unauthorized because they were not in compliance with the terms of the permit,” said Jeff Kopf, the senior environmental counsel for EPA’s Boston office.

The spill prevention control plan that Pan Am had for the site, intended to mitigate the risk and effect of an oil spill, was also deficient, EPA alleges.

Pan Am “failed to adequately provide for measures which would prevent the discharge of oil from reaching the waters of the United States,” EPA states in its complaint.

Specifically, the company did not include a diagram with the specific location of each oil storage container or a description of the type of oil it contained in its plan, failed to maintain appropriate secondary containment for multiple oil containers, did not conduct appropriate inspections and failed to maintain inspection records among other violations.

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,” EPA states in the complaint.

The EPA can assess a maximum fine of $187,500 for each count in the two-count complaint, but Pan Am may not end up paying that much to the agency, Kopf explained.

“They are put on notice about what the potential maximum liability might be” through the complaint, but a resolution to the case might include reduced fees, depending on informal settlement talks between EPA and the company, Kopf said. Settlement amounts are usually less than the maximum fine, he noted.

Pan Am has 30 days to respond to the complaint, but may be given a 30-day extension, Kopf said. It is unusual for settlement talks to go further than three months before the agency brings it to a formal hearing with an administrative judge, he added.

EPA officials have been working with Pan Am to resolve the issues since the initial inspection in 2011, and the company is nearer to compliance with environmental regulations, Kopf said.
“I wouldn’t say we’re the whole way there,” he noted.

The Waterville yard is one of the company’s major rail facilities. A similarly-sized yard in East Deering, Mass., is also facing enforcement for similar violations, Kopf said.

Cynthia Scarano, a Pan Am executive vice president, said the company expects to hold informal settlement talks with the EPA within the next week.

“We have requested an informal conference, and on completing the administrative hearing we will have further comment,” Scarano said.

“At this point, I’m not denying or admitting” violations alleged by the EPA, Scarano added.

Trolley Museum Gets $10K to Restore Freight House

(SOURCE:  The Recorder) 

Recorder Staff
Thursday, January 29, 2015
(Published in print: Friday, January 30, 2015) 
SHELBURNE FALLS — Ever since the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum bought the historic Shelburne Falls Freight House in 2004, the old building has been a work-in-progress. But now, thanks to a $10,000 grant, volunteers will be able to finish restoration of the building’s exterior, says Trolley Museum President Sam Bartlett.

Volunteers have already restored and painted two sides of the Freight House, but the H. Albert Webb Award will pay for materials and labor to complete the building’s exterior siding, trim, slate roof and windows. Also, a modern overhead garage door will be replaced with a more historically accurate wooden sliding door.

The museum’s long-range goal is also to restore part of the interior and eventually to move its Visitor Center into the Freight House. 

“We’re delighted to have been selected as this year’s award recipient, said Bartlett. “Improving the outward appearance of this rare building will help to preserve the building, make our (rail) yard more attractive to visitors, and make it look more like it did 100 years ago.”

The Freight House was built around 1867, when the Troy and Greenfield Railroad arrived in Shelburne Falls. Control of the railroad yard passed to the Fitchburg Railroad, then the Boston & Maine Railroad and finally to the Guilford rail system, now known as Pan Am Railways. When owned by the railroads, the Freight House was used for handling less-than-carload (LCL) freight for neighboring towns. 

It also handled freight transfers to the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway. In 1910, while a new depot was being built, the Freight House temporarily served as a passenger depot for Shelburne Falls riders.

The building was bought in 1963 by Blassberg Trucking, which had taken over the freight business of the Shelburne Falls and Colain Street Railway. Blassberg used it as a warehouse and as a shipping facility for the mills in Colrain.

The award was given to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum by Leigh A. Webb and Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts President David Brown at the Amherst Railway Society Hobby Show this month.

The Trolley Museum bought the rail yard and all its buildings 11 years ago. Today, the yard is used for the museum’s demonstration trolley car rides, and the Visitors Center is housed in an adjacent former grain store. Also a new two-bay car barn is under construction, paid for by donations. When finished, it will house the current Trolley Car No. 10, which once ferried freight and passengers over what is now the Bridge of Flowers, and a new acquisition — an unrestored trolley car to be housed and restored at the Trolley Museum as soon as it can be moved into the barn.

The museum is now closed for the winter, but it reopens in late May.

Seashore Trolley Museum Snow Removal Donations Needed

Record snowfall in New England has effected all of us, and Seashore Trolley Museum up in Maine hasn't dodged any snow-bullets.  They are asking for donations to help pay for the massive snow removal bills they have had this winter.  The museum has posted snow photos on their Facebook page.   To donate, visit their website:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society is an IRS 501(C) (3) not-for-profi t educational organization. All contributions are federally taxdeductible to the extent of the law.