Non-disinfected wastewater results in $22,625 penalty for Village of Essex Junction

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The Department of Environmental Conservation’s Compliance and Enforcement Division (CED) announced on Tuesday afternoon that it formally settled environmental violations involving the Village of Essex Junction.  Essex Junction operates a wastewater treatment facility, which released 1,954,853 gallons of non-disinfected wastewater into the Winooski River.  The settlement includes a $22,625.00 penalty.

A CED investigation revealed that during construction activities at the facility last summer, operators moved a panel, which controls the application of hypochlorite for disinfection.  On Aug. 2, 2013, a dial on the control panel was unknowingly moved by masonry workers, causing a discharge of approximately 559,505 gallons of treated, but non-disinfected wastewater.  A facility operator later discovered the dial was set at zero and re-set it.  Facility operators discussed the issue, but did not advise the masonry workers or take any action to prevent the issue from recurring.  Before the end of the workday, the panel was hit again and not discovered until the following morning, causing a discharge of approximately 1,395,348 gallons of treated but non-disinfected wastewater.  A rigid foam panel was installed over the control panel shortly thereafter.  The village notified the Agency of Natural Resources of the Aug. 3 event on Aug. 5, but did not notify the Agency of the Aug. 2 event.

In a separate unrelated event, a tank containing sodium bisulfate used for de-chlorination had not been re-filled, and the level dropped below the pump suction line during the morning hours of Oct. 28, 2013.  As a result the facility discharged approximately 70,000 gallons of effluent above the permitted chlorine residual effluent limit.

Once the investigation was completed, CED notified the Village of the violations and the Village agreed to settle the matter.  The settlement was reduced to an Assurance of Discontinuance, and adopted as an order by the Environmental Court. In it, the Village of Essex Junction agreed to pay a $22,625.00 penalty.