News Briefs: Two Die During Wastewater Plant Repair

In this week's news, two men die at a Texas wastewater treatment plant, and a Hawaiian plant comes back online after Hurricane Ana.
News Briefs: Two Die During Wastewater Plant Repair

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Two contractors died on Oct. 23 at the Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant in El Paso, Texas, while performing repair work on a pump pit. According to a report from ABC-7 KVIA, the two workers from Cubic Water LLC were working in a pump pit between two clarifiers.

“When a leak occurred in the pump it began filling with water,” said Diana Peterson, regional director, Office of Public Affairs, US Department of Labor in the KVIA report. “One of the workers went into the pit to attempt to close a valve, but was not able to remove himself from the pit.”

The second worker then entered the pit and was unable to escape.

The El Paso Fire Department responded to a call at 1:50 p.m. that two men were trapped at the plant. Upon arriving at the plant, the rescue operation quickly turned to a recovery operation. One person was removed from the water soon after rescue workers arrived. The second body was recovered at 3:30 p.m.

OSHA is currently investigating the accident.

Source: KVIA 

Honolulu Plant Back Online After Hurricane

The Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Honolulu, Hawaii, has resumed normal operation after Hurricane Ana swept across the region, according to a report on Insurance News Net. During the hurricane, the plant was inundated with about 240 million gallons of water and sewage in about 15 minutes. The plant typically handles 70 mgd and can handle a peak flow of 130 mgd.

During the event, 20 million gallons of sewage and rainwater spilled into the plant’s basement. Another 5,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Honolulu Harbor.

The plant has eight clarifiers, all of which went offline immediately following the overflow because of power outages. The facility’s electrical boards were submerged, and crews had to pump water into one of the onsite tanks.

Five days after the storm, crews restored three clarifiers and resumed normal plant operations.

According to a report by Hawaii News Now, the city hopes to prevent similar incidents by raising the bulkhead walls and blocking holes in the tanks during construction. At the time of the flooding, three tanks were under renovation.

Source: Hawaii News Now, Insurance News Net 

Vermont Considers Phosphorus Reduction Plan for Lake Champlain

Vermont state officials are debating whether a cap-and-trade program for phosphorus runoff would solve problems in Lake Champlain. According to a report by Vermont Public Radio, a similar program was used to reduce sulfur dioxide contamination.

“The idea of using the markets as a way of driving and incentivizing further pollution reduction is an enticing one,” says David Mears, commission of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation in the VPR report. “It has worked in other scenarios. It’s still relatively unproven in the context of nutrient pollution into waters.”

According to a Washington Times article, the program would put a mandatory cap on emissions while allowing flexibility in how sources comply. The state will spend $100,000 to hire experts who will study the program’s feasibility.

The cleanup of Lake Champlain is considered Vermont’s largest and most expensive environmental challenge.

Source: Washington Times , VPR


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