News Briefs: Train Derailment Forces Wastewater Plant Shutdown

In this week's water and wastewater news, a train derailment shuts down an Oregon plant and an Alabama utility deals with chemical contamination.
News Briefs: Train Derailment Forces Wastewater Plant Shutdown

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More than 400 residents were without wastewater services after an oil train derailed and caught fire June 3 in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

According to The Oregonian, the Mosier wastewater treatment plant was damaged when roughly 10,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from railcars into the sewer system through three sheared-off manholes. Oregon Department of Transportation officials also believe the weight of the 16-car crash affected underground pipes.

“Oil has gotten into the sewage system,” says Mayor Arlene Burns. “That means we can’t discharge the normal things. None of that can go into the river now. This will require citizens rationing their water and sewer.”

Public safety officials began warning residents June 5 not to flush toilets. “Some people are flushing their toilets, which is problematic because there isn’t a place for it to go,” Burns says.

Crews installed a temporary vault to hold wastewater until it can be pumped to the treatment plant, The Oregonian reports.

The mayor says the town also exhausted its water reserves as crews extinguished the flames and cooled the train. According to the report, the area’s aquifer is dry, leaving residents without essential water reserves.

“If this isn’t solved, we’ll all have to move somewhere else,” Burns says.

Source: KSNT, The Oregonian

City Switches Water Source After Chemical Scare

The West Morgan-East Lawrence (Alabama) Water and Sewer Authority issued a drinking-water advisory to its 10,000 customers this past week, warning the public not to drink or cook with tap water because of chemical contamination.

The utility has long been aware of the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which are used to make fabrics, packaging and cookware coatings, in its water system. However, new EPA limits have lowered the safety threshold of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water to combined levels of 70 parts per trillion. West Morgan-East Lawrence general manager, Don Sims, says recent tests found levels almost 60 percent higher than the new EPA limit.

West Lawrence Water Cooperative, which receives its water from West Morgan-East Lawrence, announced it is routing 300 customers over to Moulton (Alabama) due to the contamination.

The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority is one of three providers the West Lawrence Water Cooperative uses to supply customers.

Source: The Associated Press, WAAY-TV


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