News Briefs: Operator Injured in Sodium Hypochlorite Explosion

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a politician in Ontario is calling the Niagara Falls (New York) Wastewater Treatment Plant's discharges into the river 'nothing short of an environmental catastrophe'

A chemical explosion at the Martinez (California) Water Treatment Plant injured a 32-year-old employee, who was taken to a hospital for cuts and abrasions.

Workers say a 100-gallon sodium hypochlorite container blew up shortly after the employee in question noticed it was hot to the touch while it was being moved.

After the blast, workers responded immediately to attempt to contain the chemical spill while a hazmat team made its way to the plant. Operations at the facility were not impacted by the explosion.

A Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario (MPP) is asking the provincial government to do something about the Niagara Falls Water Board’s continued wastewater spills into the Niagara River.

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates wrote a letter to the province’s environment minister after reading news of the most recent discharge on the United States’ side of the river, calling it “nothing short of an environmental catastrophe.”

Meanwhile, the Niagara Falls Water Board is planning $27 million in treatment plant renovations to fix the problem. As many as 83 discharges were reported between May 2016 and August 2017, according to the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal.

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) is applauding the reintroduction of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

The proposal would stimulate private investment in drinking water and wastewater systems by modifying the tax code to remove state volume caps on the issuances of government private activity bonds. This is the same tax treatment other types of public infrastructure already receive, including airports, high-speed rail and the solid waste disposal industry.

“There’s widespread consensus that our nation’s water infrastructure needs an investment boost. And there’s no doubt that investment is also good for our economy. If enacted into law, this legislation could bring billions in new water infrastructure investment and help create and support more than 1.4 million jobs,” says NAWC President and CEO Robert Powelson. “Eliminating the volume cap on water infrastructure will lead to new drinking water and wastewater infrastructure investment, while allowing the issuance of exempt facility bonds provides municipalities with a lower cost financing option. All of this adds up to a major win for our water systems, communities and each and every American.”

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Savannah River National Laboratory have developed a low-cost method for real-time monitoring of groundwater pollutants using commonly available sensors. Their study, “In Situ Monitoring of Groundwater Contamination Using the Kalman Filter,” was published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“Conventional methods of monitoring involve taking water samples every year or every quarter and analyzing them in the lab,” says Haruko Wainwright, a Berkeley Lab researcher who led the study. “If there are anomalies or an extreme event, you could miss the changes that might increase contaminant concentrations or potential health risk. Our methodology allows continuous monitoring in situ using proxy measurements, so we can track plume movement in real time.”


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