Wastewater Treatment

September 5, 2018

Methane Explosion Injures 10, Collapses Roof at Chicago Area Water Reclamation Plant

Source: https://www.enr.com, August 30, 2018
By: Jeff Yoders

UPDATE: Worker’s torch set off methane explosion

The roof of the sludge concentration building at Chicago’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant collapsed after an explosion Aug. 30 around 11 a.m. Ten people were hurt and successfully evacuated to area hospitals for treatment by the Chicago Fire Dept. The plant is located in south suburban Riverside and is the oldest of the seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago wastewater treatment facilities. It opened in 1922 and provides wastewater treatment to approximately 1 million homes and businesses in southern Cook County.

According to a statement from the city/county agency, two people were trapped and were extricated from the building by Chicago Fire Department emergency crews and transported to local hospitals along with the other eight injured personnel. Firefighters to had to tunnel more than 40 ft through the rubble to extract one of the trapped, injured workers; that rescue took nearly two hours.…

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source: http://www.constructionrisk.com, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

May 31, 2013

Faulty Valve Leads to Evacuation

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

The operator of a small waste water treatment plant was in the process of receiving a bulk shipment of chlorine bleach used in the treatment process at the facility. Unfortunately, the valve connecting the hose to the tank was not secure. Before the vendor and operator realized what had happened, a significant amount of chlorine bleach was released. The liquid chlorine ran down the parking area and into a small culvert on a neighboring property. The vendor was able to close the valve but the spill had caused the culvert and surrounding soil to he contaminated. Fumes from the release caused an adjacent manufacturing operation to he evacuated. The cost to neutralize the chlorine and remediate the spill was significant and the company was fined as well. The facility had environmental coverage which covered both clean up and fines and would respond to third party bodily injury and business interruption claims should they arise.


January 4, 2013

South County sewage plant administrator sued over 2010 spill

Source: The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, CA, January 2, 2013
By: Cynthia Lambert

Two years after raw sewage flooded from a South County wastewater treatment plant into an Oceano neighborhood and backed up into some homes, seven residents have sued the administrator of the facility.

In a lawsuit filed Dec. 18, the residents allege that John Wallace, administrator of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, and his San Luis Obispo-based engineering firm, Wallace Group, failed to take steps that would have prevented massive flooding in the area in 2010.

The civil lawsuit was filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court initially by six residents and property owners, including John Carter, Darlene Prebyl, Greg Cobb, Alana Reynolds, and David and Delilah Villalba. A seventh plaintiff, Mary Ehens Stanavage, was added to the suit Dec. 28.

A case management conference has been set for April 23.

The complaint alleges that Wallace and his firm failed to protect the plant’s equipment from flooding, didn’t provide an adequate emergency pump that could operate without shutting down, and didn’t conduct adequate sampling after the spill.

The spill happened Dec. 19, 2010, after rainwater from heavy storms flowed into the treatment plant and caused an electrical short that shut down four influent pumps about 10:30 a.m. Thousands of gallons of sewage spilled into the neighborhood and creeks adjacent to the treatment plant.

Estimates of the spill volume later ranged from about 400,000 gallons to 3 million gallons. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board — which issued a $1.1 million fine against the sanitation district in October — estimated that 674,400 gallons spilled.…

May 23, 2011

Legal fight brewing in Mill Valley over massive 2008 sewage spill

Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA), May 16, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

More than three years after a treatment plant spilled millions of gallons of sewage into Richardson Bay, a collection agency that feeds into the plant wants to hold the city of Mill Valley — the plant’s contract operator — legally and financially responsible.

An attorney for the Richardson Bay Sanitary District, which collects sewage for more than 4,000 households in Strawberry and a portion of Tiburon, sent a letter dated May 4 demanding Mill Valley pay the full cost of a $1.6 million fine and $1 million in engineering and legal fees that resulted from the spills.

“I don’t think they are really going to get their checkbook out,” said the Greenbrae-based attorney, Peter Brekhus. “I think that we probably will have to file a lawsuit.”

The Richardson Bay district is one of six member agencies that make up the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin, or SASM, a joint powers authority that oversees the Mill Valley treatment plant where the spills occurred. The other members include the city of Mill Valley, the Tamalpais Community Services District and the Almonte, Alto and Homestead Valley sanitary districts.…

March 24, 2011

Shale drillers tout recycling as option for wastewater

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer , March 23, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The level of salty compounds in the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh spiked above acceptable limits in late 2008 — not a health risk, according to federal and state regulators, but drinking water drawn from the river tasted like mud.

Environmentalists blamed the contamination on Marcellus Shale gas-drilling discharges. Natural-gas drillers pointed to other sources in the historically stressed river: pollutants from coal mines and other industrial discharges.

Which source was to blame didn’t really matter. What mattered was that the Monongahela’s elevated levels of total dissolved solids — salty compounds known as TDS that can’t be removed by conventional treatment — set off alarms, a clarion that Pennsylvania’s streams would be unable to assimilate the huge volumes of wastewater expected with the coming Marcellus Shale boom, then in its infancy.

Regulators have been hard-pressed to keep tabs on the vast wastewater volumes ever since, as development of the Marcellus Shale has expanded across the state.…

March 14, 2011

Groups say facilities wrongly discharging drilling wastewater

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 11, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Two municipal sewage treatment facilities that together discharge 150,000 gallons a day of Marcellus Shale wastewater into the Monongahela River watershed don’t have federal permits for such pollution discharges and should, according to two environmental organizations that say they will sue the facilities in federal court.

Clean Water Action and Three Rivers Waterkeeper on Thursday filed a “notice of intent to sue” against sewage treatment operations in McKeesport and Franklin, Greene County, claiming the facilities are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The notice marks the first legal action challenging the widespread practice of discharging Marcellus wastewater through municipal treatment facilities that do not have permits to treat such waste.

The groups were critical of both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce existing discharge permits, which limit the facilities to treating and discharging sewage waste water. At least 11 sewage treatment facilities in the state accept and discharge Marcellus wastewater.…

March 3, 2011

Officials call for water testing after report details radioactive shale waste

Source: Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA), March 2, 1011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey joined a chorus of lawmakers on Tuesday seeking additional testing of public water supplies following a report that the wastewater produced from Marcellus Shale gas wells in Pennsylvania contains higher levels of radioactive materials than was previously disclosed.

An article published Sunday in The New York Times detailed a lack of testing for those radioactive constituents at 65 public water intakes downstream from treatment plants that have discharged Marcellus Shale wastewater into rivers.

State regulators have limited how much drilling wastewater publicly-owned sewer plants can discharge since 2008, and further discharge restrictions were adopted by the state last August.

“Alarming information has been raised that must be fully investigated,” Mr. Casey said and asked both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to “increase inspections of Pennsylvania drinking water resources for radioactive material and to account for why sufficient inspections haven’t taken place.”…

September 20, 2010

Process Tank Malfunction

Acknowledgement to Great American

A process tank at a wastewater treatment plant malfunctioned, discharging a large volume of untreated wastewater into a nearby stream. This discharge caused a fish kill as well as damage to many aquatic plants. The local regulatory authority issued fines to the operator of the wastewater treatment plant for the unauthorized discharge. In addition several local residents as well an environmental group filed suits for loss of enjoyment of the creek.…

July 22, 2010

Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Faces Jail Time

A U.S. District Court in Indiana sentenced the former superintendent of a wastewater treatment facility to one year in prison for falsifying discharge monitoring reports. The erroneous reports concealed violations of the Clean Water Act. The former plant head admitted to making as many as 55 separate falsifications in reports from September 2004 through May 2007 to show that pollutant levels were in compliance
with concentration limits when he knew that the levels were too high.…