CTNJ file photo

When he stood near the entrance of Rivermead and Colonial mobile home parks in October 2004, he said he’d seek the maximum penalty against the park owners for spilling 100 gallons of kerosene into Connecticut River wetlands adjacent to the parks. On Tuesday, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that the park owners will have to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for the spill.

The maximum penalty that could have been imposed was $25,000 per day.

For the past two years, Brewer Family LLC, Brewer Family Partnership and Colonial Mobile Home Park Inc., which own the parks have spent more than $1 million to replace 2.5-miles of underground piping that delivers kerosene to 480 mobile homes in the parks.

Back in 2004 and 2005 the low-to-middle income park residents worried the cost of replacing the corroded pipes would be passed along to them through rent increases. The residents pay the Brewer family monthly to lease the land their mobile homes sit on.

Blumenthal said in a press release Tuesday that the settlement also prohibits the owners from imposing the cost of the cleanup and penalty on the residents through steep increases. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen the settlement imposes a three-year freeze on rent increases above 3.7 percent. That means residents paying $400 per month could see their rent increase about $178 next year.

“This settlement saves Connecticut River wetlands from further environmental harm – and spare innocent residents the cost of park owners’ environmental lawbreaking. Under careful state watch, these mobile home park owners have replaced a piping system that leaked kerosene into soil and water – jeopardizing the park, as well as vital wetlands on the Connecticut River. Today’s settlement sends a message about reckless disregard for our environmental laws: It carries a cost – one that cannot be imposed on innocent bystanders,” Blumenthal said.

“The DEP worked closely with the Attorney General’s office to reach this settlement and is pleased with the outcome,” Gina McCarthy, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection said in the same press release.