Friday, May 27, 2005

New Haven Sewage Spill Investigation is Continuing

I understand from Hartford that the investigation of last month's 12-million-gallon sewage spill in New Haven is active and ongoing.

That's good news. It would be nice if the findings and the punishment, assuming there is any, were made public soon. It might encourage sewage plant operators elsewhere to take greater care, particularly with the coming of warmer weather, when the potential for damage is greater.


Anonymous Robert Funicello said...

The Bennington Banner May 26 has an interesting story about a sewage spill from a sewage lagoon in December 2004 at Stratton and the enforcement action that will now ensue.

State seeks to settle Stratton sewage spill

Staff Writer

STRATTON -- The state Agency of Natural Resources has finished its initial investigation into a December 2004 sewage discharge at Stratton Corp. and is pursuing the matter legally.
Sal Spinosa, the agency's enforcement director, said Environmental Enforcement Officer Tim McNamara had completed his months-long investigation into how 800,000 gallons of treated sewage were discharged from a storage lagoon at the popular ski resort.

On Tuesday, Spinosa forwarded McNamara's report to staff lawyer Laura Pelosi who will review the details and invite Stratton Corp. to comment before trying to reach a settlement with company officials in the Vermont Environmental Court.

"I've decided that, yes, it's suitable for enforcement," said Spinosa. "At this point, we are going forward with it."

Stratton Corp. treats its wastewater at its own sewage plant before it is pumped into one of two storage lagoons.

Operators regularly spray the sewage, also known as effluent, onto designated "spray fields" using a pipe system that draws sewage from the lagoon. The fields are closed to the public.

The discharge incident occurred sometime on Dec. 11, when a worker left a valve open after conducting a spray, and it is believed the treated sewage flowed from the lagoon into nearby woods and into a tributary of the Winhall River.

The discharge was deemed a violation of Stratton Corp.'s permit but state officials have said they were encouraged by the low levels of bacteria they found inside the lagoon from which the discharge occurred.

Preliminary tests had found no traces of E. coli above or below the point of discharge.

State officials haven't commented on possible fines for either the company or its employee, but Vermont statutes state that a penalty of not more than $25,000 may be assessed for each determination of violation.

Stratton Corp. leaders have said that as a result of what she called an accident, the company would install an automatic valve cover on a pipe from the lagoon.

Company officials had also pledged to communicate better with local municipalities about such incidents when they happen.

Officials from the towns of Stratton and Winhall had said they only heard about the discharge through news reports.

State regulations say individuals and businesses need only notify the Agency of Natural Resources about violations.

3:48 PM  

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