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DEM cites petroleum distributor for odors in Port of Providence



The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Sprague Operating Resources LLC, a Providence business for alleged environmental violations arising from the receipt, distribution, and storage of liquid asphalt products for its facility located along the Providence waterfront on Allens Avenue.

This week DEM issued the NOV to Sprague for alleged violations of Rhode Island’s Code of Regulations titled Odors, which prohibits the release of any air contaminant that creates an objectionable odor beyond the owner’s property line. The violation carries a $22,500 penalty. Sprague operates a business at 120 Allens Avenue that is engaged in the wholesale distribution of petroleum products.

In September 2017, two tanks at the facility – Tank 1 and Tank 6 – were converted to store liquid asphalt or road grade asphalt. These tanks previously stored petroleum products. Additionally, Tank 5 contains a liquid asphalt product known as roofing flux. Following the conversion of Tank 1 and Tank 6 to the storage of road grade asphalt, DEM began receiving odor complaints in the area surrounding the facility that were characterized as petroleum, asphalt, and/or sulfur in nature. DEM conducted several inspections in response to these complaints.

In December 2018, DEM met with Sprague representatives to discuss the complaints received by DEM and DEM’s inspection findings for these complaints. At that meeting, Sprague presented a plan and implementation schedule to install air pollution control equipment to control odors from Tank 1 and Tank 6. According to the plan, Sprague was to submit a permit application to DEM by January 15, 2019, to install the equipment and have the equipment operational by June 15, 2019.

DEM continued to receive complaints of petroleum, asphalt and/or sulfur odors near the Sprague facility, and performed additional inspections that confirmed objectionable odors beyond the property line. DEM inspectors confirmed an objectionable odor on March 22, 2019, as they were traveling on Allens Avenue under the bridge outside the Sprague facility; on May 7, 2019, at the entrance gates to Collier Point Park on Henderson Street in Providence; and on May 8, 2019, at the entrance gates to Collier Point Park on Henderson Street and on Allens Avenue adjacent to Tank 6.

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To date, Sprague has not applied to DEM for a permit to install the air pollution control equipment and has not taken any other actions to reduce odors.

Under the terms of the NOV, Sprague is ordered to immediately cease receiving any product to Tank 1 and Tank 6. No product can be delivered to Tank 1 or Tank 6 until equipment to control odors from the tanks is installed in accordance with a permit issued by DEM, or if DEM approves an alternative interim method to control odors from the tanks and that method is implemented.

Within 30 days, Sprague must submit a report for DEM’s review and approval that assesses the need for equipment to control odors and other air pollutants from Tank 5. If the report concludes that equipment is needed to control odors and/or pollutants from Tank 5, the report must include a description and schedule for installing such equipment. If DEM finds deficiencies in this report, Sprague will have 30 days to submit a correction plan to DEM.

In accordance with the Rhode Island Administrative Procedures Act, the recipients of NOVs have the right to request a hearing on the alleged violations and the penalties assessed in the actions. Recipients must file a request for a hearing within 20 days of their receipt of the NOV with the Department’s Administrative Adjudication Division, which then directs the process for the appeal hearing.

[From a Press Release]

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