News Briefs: Methane Explosion at Water Plant Injures 10 Workers

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, see why people are booking their weddings on the grounds of a wastewater treatment facility near Maltby, Washington

A methane gas buildup and improper use of a torch is the likely cause of an explosion at a water treatment plant in Chicago that seriously injured 10 workers and trapped two of them beneath rubble.

Workers were performing maintenance duties in a sludge concentration building at Calumet Water Reclamation Plant Aug. 30 when the explosion lifted the roof off the building and dropped it down onto the workers.

Eight employees made it out under their own power, one was rescued after 20 minutes, and firefighters spent about two hours rescuing the final worker. They all were transported to a local hospital in serious or critical condition, and since then, eight have been released.

A spokesperson with the Chicago Fire Department says the workers may not have properly monitored the area. “All we know is you’re supposed to have your (personal) monitoring device on when you go in,” he tells the Chicago Tribune. “Using a torch in that environment wasn't supposed to be done.”

WWTP Employee Alleges Hostile Work Environment

A former employee of a wastewater treatment facility in Yakima, Washington, is suing the city for allegedly failing to fix a hostile work environment.

The woman was hired in 1987 and says she’s endured 25 years of sexual harassment, citing one co-worker in particular who pursued a relationship with her daily despite being her supervisor during some of that time.

That man is a defendant in the case and denies he harassed the woman.

The complaint alleges that the unwelcome advances were well-known among personnel at the plant and management was informed about the issue, but nothing was done.

Public Amenities Are a Hit for This Treatment Plant

A wastewater treatment facility near Maltby, Washington, is so inviting to its community that people have been booking their weddings on its grounds for the past four years.

The Brightwater Education and Community Center located at the Brightwater Treatment Plant offers gardens, hiking trails, a visitor center, rental halls, and a commercial kitchen, according to News Deeply.

Brightwater is one among a growing number of facilities that are starting to offer public amenities as a means of engaging citizens in the wastewater treatment system.

These kinds of projects are estimated to add about 10 percent to the cost of a basic wastewater plant, and Brightwater workers say the facility is popular with the public and is typically packed with people on a hot summer day.

Niagara Falls Water Board Says Canada Pollutes the River Too

A Niagara Falls Water Board member is firing back at a Canadian official, saying Ontario’s water leaks into the Niagara River are almost as bad as the American side.

The statement came in response to a Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario recently asking the government to do something about the Niagara Falls Water Board’s continued wastewater spills into the Niagara River.

Water Board Chairman Daniel O’Callaghan writes that in 2017, the Ontario side discharged more than 834 million liters of raw or partially treated sewage into the Niagara River. The American side discharged 945 million liters. The difference is that fewer people noticed it.

“The Canadian discharges are less visible than those of the Water Board because of the locations where they enter the Niagara River,” wrote O’Callaghan Aug. 31.


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