News Briefs: Operator Accused of Burying 86 Drums of Waste, Embezzlement

In this week's water and wastewater news, a former water district manager in California is charged for burying hazardous waste; and a chemist in Pennsylvania steals potassium cyanide and dumps it in a stormwater drain

News Briefs: Operator Accused of Burying 86 Drums of Waste, Embezzlement

Dennis Falaschi, former manager of the Panoche (California) Water District, was arrested along with four other people on charges of embezzlement and burying 86 drums of hazardous waste on the water district’s property.

The district had been hailed as a model for how to manage toxic runoff from farmlands until the California Department of Toxic Substances Control started an investigation into the drums of waste.

The arrests could have an impact on whether congress will pass a settlement between the federal government and the nearby Westlands Water District regarding agricultural runoff that led to an environmental disaster in 1983.

Source: SF Gate

Chemist Steals Potassium Cyanide and Dumps It in Stormwater Drain

A chemist in Montgomery County Pennsylvania who worked at Merck & Co. is being accused of stealing 219 grams of potassium cyanide and dumping it into a stormwater drain near his Warrington home.

The accused, Richard O’Rourke, claimed he wanted the chemical for killing rodents at his house. When he was confronted by a coworker who saw him take the chemical, he allegedly went home and dumped it into a stormwater drain.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection initially determined “there was a real threat to the downstream drinking water intakes,” according to a criminal complaint.

Source: NBC 10 News

Flint Rushed an Inadequate Treatment Plant, Says Former Utilities Director

A former director of utilities for Flint, Michigan, is now saying the city rushed to switch to the Flint River as its water source before inadequacies in its treatment plant and staff were addressed.

The former director, Michael Glasgow, recently testified that he asked city officials for more time to get the water treatment plant online in early 2014, but that request was denied.

He said he made his exact concerns known in emails to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, but received no response. The two employees he sent those emails to are now facing charges related to the Flint Water Crisis.

Source: MLive

Botulism Outbreak Kills 1,000 Birds at New Zealand WWTP

An avian botulism outbreak at a wastewater treatment plant in Kaiapoi, New Zealand, recently killed nearly 1,000 birds, including hundreds of waterfowl like ducks, teal and geese.

While there’s little authorities can do to mitigate the outbreak’s impact, they maintain the plant itself is safe.

Meanwhile, the Waimakariri District Council is considering ways to reduce future risk.

Source: Stuff


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