News Briefs: Operators Stay Behind as Canadian Wildfire Threatens Plant

In this week's water and wastewater news, operators in Canada protect a water plant during a catastrophic fire, a Flint water worker pleads no contest to charges related to the water crisis, and a Las Vegas water utility loses $4.5 million in an office supply scheme.
News Briefs: Operators Stay Behind as Canadian Wildfire Threatens Plant

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The massive Canadian wildfire near Fort McMurray, Alberta, that burned more than 565,000 acres this past week forced the city to implement a mandatory evacuation order. As nearly 80,000 residents evacuated, a skeleton crew of city water plant employees stayed behind, keeping the plant operational throughout the event.

George Muirhead, a utility treatment technician, was one of nine workers who stayed behind to man the plant. According to a report from CBC News, the crew was even forced to evacuate at one point as the flames closed in on the facility.

“The fire had come to the water plant, burned the hillside just across from us and had burned all around the perimeter of the water treatment plant itself,” Muirhead told CBC. “And for some reason, some way, it decided not to hit our river intake structure, where we pull water in from the river.”

The fire was so close to the plant that water operators wore dust masks to deal with the thick smoke.

Muirhead did eventually evacuate, but five operators remained at the plant along with two foremen and the plant manager. Calgary later announced it would send three water treatment operators and one process engineer to help at the utility.

“We need water, the city needs water, the firefighters need water. We’ve got to keep it going. As long as we can,” Muirhead said.

Source: CBC News

Flint Water Worker Takes Plea Bargain

Michael Glasgow, who served as Flint, Michigan’s laboratory and water-quality supervisor, has pleaded no contest to charges related to the Flint water crisis. According to the Detroit Free Press, Glasgow pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty. A felony charge of tampering with evidence was dismissed.

Glasgow has agreed to continue cooperating in the ongoing investigation.

Todd Flood, special counsel for the state Attorney General’s Office, said although Glasgow manipulated lead testing reports, the former supervisor also tried to get assistance.

“He was the one that was attempting to give notice to the world that ‘we have the Titanic and people are telling us to have the violins keep playing,’” said Flood in the news story.

Source: Detroit Free Press

FBI Investigates $4.5M Office Supply Scheme at Las Vegas Water District

An office supply scheme at the Las Vegas Valley Water District has cost the public agency $4.5 million. According to a report in the Review Journal, Jennifer McCain-Bray, who worked in the purchasing department, allegedly ran the scheme for three years before detection. She reportedly ordered office supplies through the utility’s vendor and then sold the supplies to a company in New Jersey.

The scheme was discovered when another employee noticed unusual purchases and reported them to a manager.

No charges have been filed against McCain-Bray, but the FBI is now investigating the printer ink jet.

Source: Review Journal


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