News Briefs: Dog Hair in Lab Contributes to $98,000 Fine

In this week's water and wastewater news, a plant faces health and safety violations, DC Water sues the EPA, and a Syrian water treatment plant is hit in an airstrike
News Briefs: Dog Hair in Lab Contributes to $98,000 Fine

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Dog hair, chewing tobacco and contaminated samples were just a few of the problems identified during a Washington Department of Labor & Industries inspection of the City of Woodland’s wastewater system. The city’s wastewater and water treatment plants and 14 pump stations were issued 21 serious violations and five general violations, which resulted in fines totaling $98,000.

According to a report in The Daily News, the inspections revealed a hygiene problem in the facility’s lab that included contaminated testing containers, food and drinks in the lab’s refrigerator, dog hair on sampling and testing equipment and more. The plant was also fined for safety violations that included insufficient procedures for confined-space entry, inadequate lock-out procedures and more.

The city has until Dec. 21 to appeal the citations.

“We feel that (L&I) were overly punitive, so we are working through our city attorney to file an appeal,” said Mayor Grover Laseke in the article.

The inspections occurred after wastewater treatment plant employee Derrek Amburgey reported that his supervisor had falsified data and improperly disposed of sludge. He also claimed his supervisor had butchered meat and stored it in the lab fridge, groomed his dog at work and brought alcohol to the treatment plant. Amburgey was demoted; he then filed a claim against the city for $1 million, saying the demotion was retaliation for whistleblowing. The two sides are still negotiating a settlement.

Source: The Daily News, KOIN 6

DC Water Sues EPA

DC Water filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that it improperly calculated new limits on the amount of E. coli that the region’s wastewater treatment facility can discharge into the Potomac River, the Washington Post reports.

DC Water says the EPA didn’t account for the fact that the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant can have spikes in E. coli levels when stormwater rushes into the plant during rain events, since E. coli is found in animal waste as well as human waste.

“The plant’s treatment performance already meets or exceeds that required to meet water-quality standards,“ spokesperson John Lisle wrote in a response to emailed questions. “The revised requirement would not lead to measurable improvements to water quality.”

The lawsuit is being closely watched by other sewer utilities in the nation because they also have E. coli limits specified in permits drawn up by the EPA.

Source: Washington Post

UN Condemns Air Strike of Syrian Water Treatment Plant

The United Nations has criticized an air strike in Syria that cut off water to more than 3.5 million people. Although services have been somewhat restored, the U.N. reported that 1.4 million still have reduced water supplies.

“In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF’s representative in Syria. “The air strike, which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant … is a particularly alarming example."

According to a Reuters report, the water supply is particularly vulnerable because it passes through areas controlled by Islamic State militants, rival insurgent forces and the Syrian government. The damaged plant is considered the most important in Syria, producing more than 4.76 mgd from the Euphrates River.

It is unclear who was responsible for the attack.

Source: Rueters, Daily Mail


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