News Briefs: Reporters Say Human Error Contributed to Seattle Plant Disaster

In this week's water and wastewater news, an investigative report reveals human error helped cause the West Point Treatment Plant disaster; and the Oregon DEQ fines a small city for three years of data falsification
News Briefs: Reporters Say Human Error Contributed to Seattle Plant Disaster

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A lengthy investigative report by The Seattle Times disclosed that human error was partly to blame for the devastating flood at West Point Treatment Plant in February.

According to reporters Christine Willmsen and Lynda V. Mapes — who scoured more than 7,000 documents and numerous interviews — there were “errors in judgement, poor communication, a lack of training, equipment failures and faulty maintenance” en route to the $25 million disaster.

Wastewater officials who were on site say it’s lucky no one was seriously wounded or killed in the flood, which is one of the most significant infrastructure disasters in the region’s history.

Source: The Seattle Times

Oregon DEQ Fines Small City for Years of Data Falsification

The Oregon DEQ has levied $21,000 in fines against the city of Yoncalla for alleged data falsification, high E. coli levels and late reports. The city requested a hearing to appeal the penalties.

Oregon DEQ environmental law specialist Susan Elworth said city workers turned in monthly reports with fabricated pH measurements for more than three years between March 2013 and July 2016.  

“We rely on the permittees to determine whether or not they’re in compliance with their permit and to make adjustments as needed to ensure the waste they are discharging is not harmful to the environment,” she told The Register Guard.

Source: The Register Guard

NRDC Reports Widespread Water Systems Violations

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council claims there are widespread violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act nationally, and that nearly one in four Americans’ water comes from a utility with a violation on its record.

The council reports the country is facing a drinking water crisis, and that harmful contaminants are found in every state in the U.S. In 2015 alone, the council reports there were more than 80,000 violations from 18,000 water systems serving 77 million people.

In that same year, 12,000 health-based violations were reported in about 5,000 water systems serving 27 million people.

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Minnesota Treatment Plants Awarded for Permit Compliance

More than 300 wastewater treatment plants were awarded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for outstanding permit compliance from September 2015 to September 2016.

Certificates were handed out by MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine who lauded the facilities for their dedication to preserving water quality.

The eligibility requirements asked that plants submit their monitoring reports and employ MPCA-certified staff members.

Source: Daily Mail


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