News Feature | February 8, 2017

Utility Miscommunication Causes 500-Gallon Wastewater Spill, Odor Problems

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

pumpingstationregular

At least 500 gallons of wastewater leaked at a St. Louis District pump station in Bridgeton, MO, late last month. The leak began at a pump station and resulted in local reports concerning an odor.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the local utility was expected to finish cleaning up the spill the following day.

The Post-Dispatch reported that the accident was the result of "a miscommunication" between the utility and the landfill's on-site wastewater treatment plant. The pump station had been shut off to conduct maintenance, however, flow to it was mistakenly restarted.

The report went on to indicate that utility personnel were at the station during the incident, and stopped the leak in under five minutes.

"It was just a false start, if you want to call it that," a utility spokesperson said.

Also last month, a power company had to pay a lump sum for its involvement in water pollution. Under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. EPA, the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) had to pay $1.6 million and install a water treatment system for Clean Water Act violations at its service center in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Environmental Leader reported that under the settlement, Pepco had to also “implement a number of measures to reduce metals in stormwater entering into its drainage system.”

Pepco had to also install an in-pipe treatment system “to further treat the stormwater, which discharges into the Anacostia River and agreed to perform a mitigation project to eliminate stormwater discharges from another outfall at the facility, and will pay an additional stipulated penalty of $500,000 if it fails to put the project into operation.”

According to the federal government, the company violated its Clean Water Act permit limits for metals, “including copper, zinc, iron, and nickel, and total suspended solids, in its stormwater discharges.”

Image credit: "Fleet Street Pumping Station, June 2005" Takashi Toyooka © 2005 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/