By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online
A wastewater treatment plant in Oregon came under fire last month for negligent practices that have been harmful to the environment.
“Rainier’s sewage treatment plant has violated seven state environmental laws over the past few years, according to a report the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ] sent to the city last week,” The Daily News reported. “Among the most serious allegations are that the city falsified monthly reports about sewer plant operations to the DEQ and that city discharged raw sewage into the Columbia River and did not report those episodes to the state.”
A final enforcement notice would have been issued if the plant did not answer to these violations by the end of November. While the potential penalties were not immediately clear, these types of cases tend to draw fines and orders to change practices.
DEQ indicated at least seven allegations of violations between August 2014 and August 2017. These include fabricated reports with months of identical data, failure to maintain required records, 36 instances of unapproved raw sewage discharge in 2016 and 2017, and a failure to monitor turbidity levels.
“An independent consultant was hired earlier this year to investigate operations at the wastewater treatment plant,” according to The Chronicle. “The consultant found the plant needed ‘significant housekeeping,’ noting buildups of solid waste, grass growing in the system and poor recordkeeping.”
During a press conference to announce the DEQ findings, Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole and City Manager Debra Dudley said that they took the allegations seriously and that some were already being addressed.
“Dudley said the independent consultant would investigate DEQ allegations and assist in formulating a response,” The Chronicle reported. “Dudley said City of Rainier would hire an independent consultant to perform inspections of the water and sewer plants annually going forward. A surprise inspection at the water plant recently was met with pleasing results, she said.”
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Image credit: "Red Sky in Morning," Dave In Oregon, 2015, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/