BALTIMORE, MD (August 28, 2002) – The State of Maryland has entered into settlements, totaling nearly $2 million in civil penalties, with Pepco and ST Services as a result of the April 2000 Chalk Point oil spill, one of the worst environmental accidents to ever affect state waters.
“This action resolves violations of state environmental laws that occurred as a result of this horrendous incident,” said Gov. Parris N. Glendening. “The money collected from this settlement will go a long way toward ensuring that potential oil spills of significant magnitude in the state are prevented, saving our precious natural waterways from harm. It should also send a clear message that those responsible for catastrophic environmental occurrences will be held fully accountable for their actions.”
On the evening of April 7, 2000, a submerged petroleum pipeline ruptured at the Chalk Point Generating Station in Aquasco (Prince George’s County). As a result of the rupture, approximately 140,400 gallons of fuel oil were released into Swanson Creek, a 45-acre marsh. The oil eventually migrated to the Patuxent River, its tributaries and approximately 17 miles of shoreline. At the time of the spill, the pipeline was owned by Pepco and operated by ST Services.
In reaching the settlements, MDE, for the first time in the State’s history, invoked a section of Maryland law that authorizes MDE, in addition to other civil penalties, to recover a civil penalty of up to $100 per gallon of oil discharged in spills exceeding 25,000 gallons. ST Services agreed to pay to MDE a penalty in excess of $1,000,000, while Pepco agreed to pay a $950,000 penalty.
The penalties received by MDE from the settlements will be placed in the state’s oil and clean water funds. A portion of the monies may be used for future wetlands restoration.
“The settlement money will allow the agency to better implement recommendations of Maryland’s Oil Spill Prevention Advisory Committee formed by the Governor in 2000 in response to the Chalk Point oil spill,” said MDE's Acting Secretary Merrylin Zaw-Mon. “Additional training, staff and materials, more efficient response equipment, and better data collection and dissemination of information for emergency responders may be among the positive actions that result from this unfortunate episode in the state’s environmental history.”