Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dominion to Pay a Quarter Million for Spilled Baby Oil

Dominion Virginia Power has agreed to paying civil fees and reimbursement costs to the state Department of Environmental Quality for the discharge of mineral oil onto private property from a transformer just outside Staunton in January.

An official decision on the enforcement action is expected in December. Approximately 9,000 gallons of mineral oil discharged from a transformer on Churchville Avenue onto a tributary of Bells Creek and a farm pond in Augusta County on Jan. 6. Le-Ha Anderson, a spokesperson for Dominion, said the oil escaped a containment area located around the transformer.

Dominion recovered 8,900 gallons of the mineral oil. Anderson said DEQ and the National Response Center were notified of the incident.

Jason Ericson, an environmental projects advisor for Dominion, said booms were used to contain the mineral oil. Cattle were fenced out of the 150-foot area of the stream tributary. Since the spill, Ericson said Dominion has excavated the contaminated soil and is reseeding the affected farm area to grow grass.

By May of 2017, Dominion must demonstrate to DEQ that the soil has been stabilized, Ericson said.

Anderson said mineral oil is a non-hazardous material used to cool transformers.
And mineral oil is the major ingredient of Baby Oil, the other ingredients being mostly things to make it smell like baby oil. And here, I thought it was made out of real babies.

So they spilled 9,000 and recovered 8,900 for a net loss of 100 gallons. What did they cost?
In response to the spill in Augusta County and a January discharge of 13,500 gallons of mineral oil from a transformer in the Crystal City substation of Arlington County, Dominion has proposed to DEQ a civil payment of $259,535 and $5,882 for reimbursement of oil discharge investigative costs.
. . .
Additionally, Dominion has spent $1.5 million for response, remediation and restoration at the West Staunton substation.
So, while the fine seems rather trivial in view of the expense they went to while cleaning up the spills, it seems rather high considering the amount of oil actually spilled, and the apparent environmental damage. However:
Twenty-one birds, mostly Canada geese, died after the oil coated their feathers, and more were treated by a wildlife rescue team. Recreational fishermen were urged not to consume fish they caught in the vicinity during the two-week period when the spill was under investigation by a U.S. Coast Guard-led team.
Well, twenty-one Canada Geese, which may have been worthwhile migratory geese or nuisance "resident" geese, they being indistinguishable in January.

Wombat-socho has "Late Night With Rule 5 Sunday" up at The Other McCain.

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