Posts Tagged ‘Ohio EPA’

(Posted by Grant Maki, Of Counsel, Ohio Environmental Council)

Yesterday, OELC filed comments to Ohio EPA on a rather delicate situation in a very delicate area — Cash-strapped public school’s need for updates and expansion against destroying some of the few high quality wetlands Ohio has left.

SheffieldSheffield Lake City School District, in Lorain County plans to expand its high school.  Unfortunately, the project would fill in 5.6 acres of rare, high-quality category 3 wetlands.  On the positive side, the Schools proposed to place the remaining 39.4 acres of equally high-quality wetland on their property under a conservation easement that would preserve them in perpetuity.

The Schools were almost forced into this situation as previous poor planning left them with a parcel covered in wetlands and a pot of money that is specifically limited by a ballot initiative to be spent only on construction and renovation—not buying new land.

The Schools made a good faith effort to limit their impact to the wetland.  Their original design would have filled over 12 acres of wetland—over twice what they are proposing to fill today.  Still, the proposal has numerous inadequacies that we pointed out in our comments.

Probably the most important issue that we focused on is the Schools’ plan to run a wetlands ecology class in the property.  If that class is structured correctly, the students could improve and maintain the wetland while learning about ecology by doing things like removing invasive species.  But if these same activities are not done in the right way, they could actually harm the wetland.  We urged the Schools to find a highly qualified wetlands scientist to design the curriculum and train school faculty on wetland stewardship.

The Schools’ application also mentioned plans to put one or more trails through the wetland.  Trails can have significant impacts to sensitive species that may live in the wetland.  We asked that all trails be routed around the edge of the wetland, rather than through the middle of it.

We hope that the Schools and Ohio EPA, who will ultimately approve or deny the permit application, will take note of our comments and address these problems.

Read Full Post »

(Posted by Trent Dougherty, OEC Director of Legal Affairs)

Last week, a decision of the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) opened the door for Patriot Water Treatment, Inc. to treat brine and fracking wastewater in its facility, and the City of Warren to discharge the brine through its wastewater treatment plant into the Mahoning River.

Under a 2010 modification to the City of Warren’s wastewater discharge permit, treated brine water produced from oil and gas drilling activity could be sent to the city of Warren’s wastewater treatment plant. The city’s 2012 permit renewal from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which took effect April 1, however, contained a provision that did not allow the city to accept the water from Patriot.

The change in permit terms came with the change of Administrations, and a subsequent change (or more aptly, a clarification) of Ohio EPA policy toward discharge of drilling wastewater into waters of the state. The essential clarification was that it was the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and not Ohio EPA, who was the authority to permit disposal of drilling-related wastewater.

The Commission’s decision thus hinged on whether that policy could be enforced through the City of Warren permit. The Commission said no.

The Commission’s ruling does not necessarily permit the brine to be accepted by Warren and discharged into the Mahoning (especially if you ask Ohio EPA – read their reaction).  However, it does strike the provision that Ohio EPA inserted into Warren’s 2012 water quality permit that prohibited the discharge of brine unless and until ODNR approves of it as a disposal method.

Under current Ohio law (ORC 1509.22), the only approved methods of disposing of brine and other wastefluids from oil and gas drilling is through Class II injection wells or application on roads for dust/ice control.  Yet, that law does allow the ODNR to approve other methods of disposal, but has yet to ever do so.  The main crux of the decision was that it was unlawful for Ohio EPA to enforce ODNR’s law through the City of Warren’s permit.

The ball, then, is squarely in ODNR’s court to definitively state whether discharging treated “brine” into waters of the State of Ohio is an acceptable and approved method of disposal. The Department has a choice:

  1.  defend their statements that underground injection is the best and safest disposal method and prohibit Warren from discharging;
  2. approve the treatment and discharge through the wastewater treatment plant as an ODNR approved brine disposal method, and begin the, hopefully, public debate about which disposal method is the safest (if either);
  3. or do nothing, and let its executive agency cousin, Ohio EPA, fight the battle.

For almost a decade, Ohio law has put the “sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations within the state” to ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources.  However, that law also, exempts from that authority “those activities regulated under federal laws for which oversight has been delegated to the environmental protection agency and activities regulated under sections 6111.02 to 6111.029 of the Revised Code.” So there are three important questions that should be answered:

  1. Whether Patriot’s “treated” brine is still brine under Ohio’s law?
  2. Whether discharging it through a wastewater treatment plant is disposing of brine?
  3. Is regulating it an activity granted to Ohio EPA by the Clean Water Act, and thus not under ODNR’s authority at all?

The answer to those questions not only determines who has authority over these operations (left unanswered in last week’s decision), but where the great influx of shale drilling waste is headed for the foreseeable future.

The state can just add these to the list of other questions that need to be addressed as we ramp up to the 2000 shale permits envisioned by ODNR and the industry, and the hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater that comes with it.

Read Full Post »

(Posted by Grant Maki, Law Fellow at the Ohio Environmental Council)

Today, Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and its allies submitted comments to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regarding their proposed General Permit to authorize Oil and Gas to impact wetlands and streams.

OEPA is working to establish a General Permit that lays the conditions under which an oil and natural gas drilling companies may impact streams and wetlands.  If an applicant is not able to meet the terms of the General Permit, they can still apply for an Individual Permit, but the process will be much longer and require more scrutiny from EPA.

This proposed Draft General Permit would allow an applicant to “impact” (meaning “fill in”) up to half an acre of Category 1 or Category 2 wetland, and up to 300 feet of stream.  The General Permit would not be available to cover impacts to the highest quality Category 3 wetlands and the highest quality streams and other water bodies. Any impacts would have to be “made up” by purchasing credits at a mitigation bank, which is an entity that will construct artificial wetlands to replace those that are impacted by new construction projects.   The permit would require a company to buy credits for at least 1.5 times the number of acres of wetland that they impacted.  In theory, applicants would be “making up” their impacts to our wetlands.

However, Ohio EPA published a discouraging self-assessment of its mitigation program in 2006 and another in 2010.

In spite of the mitigation ratios, the mitigation projects have been dismal failures in terms of replacing the valuable functions of wetlands.

The OEC, along with the Buckeye Forest Council , Sierra Club, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice submitted comments to OEPA regarding the Draft General Permit, urging first and foremost that EPA put greater emphasis on the avoiding and minimizing impacts to our wetlands, and to treat mitigation as a last resort.   The coalition urged OEPA to:

  • Prevent applicants from inadvertently impacting certain wetlands that are difficult for the untrained eye to recognize as wetlands;
  • Notify local authorities – especially flood plain managers, of proposed drilling activity;
  • Ensure that drillers don’t use the streams or wetland as a water source, which would probably dry them out
  • Work with DNR to monitor impacts to streams and wetlands throughout the life of the drilling operation;
  • Prevent multiple drilling sites in the same wetland are from cumulatively causing large impacts by limiting total impacts to each wetland to 0.5 acres.

Read OEC/BFC/Sierra Club/CHEJ Joint Comments here.

Read Full Post »

The fifth installment in the OELC’s report on the State of Clean Water Act Violations in Ohio

(Posted by Trent A. Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council, Director of Ohio Environmental Law Center)

As the any year comes to a close, reflections and musings on the good and not-so-good is expected. As it is the end of the first year of a gubernatorial administration, it is fitting, to me at least, to reflect on the regulatory enforcement of the past year.   When it comes to water quality enforcement, the Director of Ohio EPA is granted broad enforcement authority under ORC 6111.03) to issue orders to prevent, control, or abate water pollution– short of calling on the Attorney General.  With 43 finalized “Director’s Orders,” this year has been a statistical success compared to the 24 last year. And for the first year of a new gubenatorial administration that began the year with a “regulatory reform” initaiative aimed to aid businesses, it is a solid showing.  However, with the an estimated 25% of the 3,000 state discharge permits being violated and untold numbers of pollution incidents happening without a permit, it’s difficult to say if the enforcement process is really working.

While the agency does not have a “prioritization process” for enforcement, 2011 Director’s Orders do show a trend toward focusing enforcement on public water treatment and sewage issues.  Nearly 40% of the Directors Orders from public permit holders.  As I sit in Columbus today, hearing the rain hit my window, and imagine the havoc that rain is having on the storm sewers, I am glad they have tried to make this a priority.  Although, it’s a Citizen Suit that is addressing Franklin County’s sewage issues (see previous post).

Here is a snapshot:

Just last month, the Director issued Findings and Orders against the Village of Cecil for pollution discharge  exceedences, ordering the Village to develop a treatment improvement plan in 120 days, and achieve compliance with their permit in 18 months (along with a $2k fine).

In the City of Toledo, Ohio EPA finalized a multi- year effort to abate a public health nuisance, which included unhealthy inundations of E. coli and fecal coliform, in some of the City’s non-sewered areas.  Dearden Place and Birdsall road area is an unsewered location within the corporation limits of Toledo.  The properties in this area dispose of their sewage through a sewer network that empties into a private septic tank, with an outlet to the City’s storm sewers and leading to Silver Creek (a water of the state).  This network of sewers was discovered in 2003, but existed previously.

The City was notified of the sewer network and Ohio EPA requested that the City stop the unsanitary conditions by providing public sewers.  The City applied twice to build the sewers, was approved, but never began construction.

The  Orders against the City included an 18 month schedule to initiate construction of sewer plans to abate the unsanitary conditions at the site, and a 28 month schedule to construct a completed sewer.

A Spring Order against the City of Vermilion for the City to provide OEPA with sewer rate report; create a schedule for elimination of SSOs; and Pay OEPA civil penalty of $15,000.00.  The City was cited for:

 

  1. Separate Sanitary Overflows from three pump stations; did not remedy according to schedule in NPDES permit; several effluent violations from wastewater treatment plant (Total Suspended Solids; pH; low level Mercury)
  2. Failed to apply for a proper sludge permit; Notice of Violation sent
  3. Wastewater Treatment Plant was not properly maintained

City of Crestline violated sampling requirements of its NPDES permit; had Sanitary Sewer Overflows present (SSO); did not correct SSOs within timeframe of the permit; and failed to submit plan for improvement.  Samples collected showed toxicity to C. Dubia.  As a result, the Director hit the City with multiple orders, including a strict timeline for fixing the SSO problem and a $14,000 penalty.

The Enforcement Process
According to the Agency, the docket for the enforcement section consists of around 70 administrative cases active and 62 active referred cases sent to the AG.  Enforcementprocess begins at the District Office (DO).  The district office, whether at the behest of a complaining citizen or through review of compliance reports, identifies violators of clean water laws.  The DO Enforcement Coordinator drafts referral to Central Office. CO enforcement section’s four staff along with the four water attorneys review the referral.  From this referral options for enforcement are developed, which include: Unilateral orders by OEPA with no penalty can be assessed; Proposed action with a penalty under $125,000 (anything over $125K in penalty must be referred to AGs office); or Referral to AG’s office for possible prosecution.

There have been some good results, but,  is this process working?  The number of of these Director’s orders are increasing, seemingly, with the increase in violators.   As we have seen in preparation for the 60-day notice filed on Franklin County’s unsewered townships, that the big enforcement needs are not always addressed by one District Office, but a similar but smaller issue (like Toledo, above), gets Director’s level enforcement. While not even the TV cops can catch every crook in the act, there needs to be a step that gets some of the minor sources in line before the long process of formal enforcement (and thus continued violations).

Governor John Kasich, in his first biennial budget, suggested a priority for Ohio EPA streamline permitting and enforcement.  According to discussions with Director Scott Nally of Ohio EPA, streamlined enforcement means simply to give the Agency more tools to gain compliance without using formal Findings and Orders and/or referral to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General.  Such tools could be a stiff ticketing system to allow enforcement personnel to charge a monetary fine after a failed, informal enforcement measure.  The goal, according to Director Nally, is to use quick monetary enforcement to motivate management of the violating entity or corporation to prioritize their environmental permitting responsibilities – a proverbial hit to the pocket to get attention.  We believe that such chief level enforcement is essential and is a long way past due.

Since it is the Holiday Season, I will give (slight) praise to the Agency.  One huge advancement for the Ohio EPA DSW enforcement section over the past few years, and through it an advancement for the people of Ohio, is the section’s transparency. The section has put their enforcement cases on the web. Further, the Division’s interactive maps allow citizens to pinpoint discharge violators in their counties and review the permits and compliance information for thousands of permits.

Going into 2012, John Kasich’s OEPA needs to continue with, and increase, transparency of its enforcement; expand the prioritization to the sectors referenced in previous posts (schools, trailer parks, etc.); and use tough penalties early to push compliance.

Next installment: “When they call in the Big Guns: The Ohio’s  Attorney General’s Clean Water Enforcement

Read Full Post »

(Posted by Grant Maki, Law Fellow at the Ohio Environmental Council)

This Spring, the Ohio Environmental Council and 50 fellow environmental and community organizations sent a letter[link to letter] to state legislators urging them to issue a moratorium on horizontal fracturing until its impacts on the environment and public health are thoroughly studied and effective, science-based regulations can be put in place.  US EPA is conducting a study on these impacts—at a minimum we should wait for the study to be completed, then pass regulations based on sound science, and then go ahead with drilling.

These efforts led to a bill currently before the General Assembly.  However, the state seems ready to embrace the drilling boom first and do its due diligence second.   Horizontal fracturing has already commenced at 20 sites around the state, and 65 more have received a full go-ahead from Ohio DNR.[1]

So even while we push for a moratorium, we are working to ensure that the regulations that are put in place today are as strong as possible.   These efforts ran on all cylinders last week, as OEC and its allies submitted comments to both US EPA and Ohio EPA on their proposed regulations regarding air pollution emissions from natural gas drilling.

USEPA’ s Proposed Air Regulations

US EPA proposed a very broad set of rules aimed at the entire oil and natural gas sector.  Although the proposal involved many issues, our comments focused on just two of them.  Our first priority was to defend the proposed requirement that all new natural gas wells be constructed using a method called “reduced emissions completions. “  To understand this requirement, you have to know a little bit about shale gas drilling.

Shale gas wells are “drilled” primarily by forcing special fluids into shale rock formations at high pressure, which fractures the shale (hence the term: “hydrofracturing”).   After fracturing, operators release the water pressure, causing large amounts of fluid to flow back to the surface.  This flowback fluid contains a significant amount of natural gas, in addition to other potential pollutants.  Standard gas collection equipment can’t handle the flowback fluid, so it often sits in storage tanks for days while the gas is either vented into the atmosphere or burned off with a flare—either option causes significant air pollution.   A reduced emissions completion” uses separator equipment that can handle the flowback fluid and also capture (and sell) the natural gas that would otherwise be vented or flared.

We defended US EPA’s proposal to require “reduced emissions completion” against arguments from industry that it was too expensive or unduly burdensome.  We also focused on an issue that was flying under the radar: US EPA’s idea of using industry-funded third parties to do some of the oversight and monitoring.  Although we recognize potential benefits if third-party verifiers are truly independent, such a system could lead to serious conflicts of interest.   Thus we suggested ways for EPA to minimize conflicts of interest.

Ohio EPA’s Air Pollution General Permit

At the same time that the federal regulations were coming down the pipe, Ohio EPA sought public comments on a proposed General Permit that will allow companies to start drilling whenever they meet certain qualifying criteria and agree to abide by certain emissions and operational standards.

Given that the state has decided to go ahead with drilling before learning from the mistakes of other states, we are pleased to see that Ohio EPA is at least showing willingness to start regulating using the knowledge we have.  Unfortunately, Ohio EPA’s proposed General Permit had a number of holes in it that could mean a lot of pollution in Eastern Ohio.  OEC, the Buckeye Forest Council, the Center for Health Environment & Justice, and the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) submitted two rounds of comments to OEPA, addressing a number of issues.  GASP’s expertise and experience with the same issues in Western Pennsylvania we hope will educate Ohio EPA to  learn from hiccups to our east, and fix the deficiencies with the proposed permit.

Revisions are Necessary for the Final General Permit

For one, the draft General Permit put no requirements on well completions.  We urged Ohio EPA to require Reduced Emissions Completions.  US EPA has come under fire from industry for their proposal to require reduced emissions completions, and the requirement might be struck from the final federal rule.  Ohio EPA should play it safe and enact the same requirement, especially in a General Permit that specifies conditions where a drilling proposal can be approved with no stakeholder input and no further scrutiny from Ohio EPA.

For another thing, the draft General Permit is silent on produced water storage tanks.  “Produced water” is a saline fluid that occurs naturally in the shale formations and flows to the surface during fracking.  Produced water storage tanks produce emissions that can’t be overlooked, as states like Colorado and Wyoming have recognized.[1],[2]

Another issue we had is that the General Permit would allow significant drilling operations to commence without stakeholder input.  We pushed the agency to give the public an opportunity to be heard when industry proposes large-scale drilling operations, and for proposals to drill near “urbanized areas” which is defined as a town of more than 5,000 in OAC 1501:9-1-01(A).

Among other comments, we also pushed the agency to require drillers to notify them before undertaking any action that would produce significant emissions, in order to help the agency develop better information about the fracking industry.

We at the OEC will continue to work on this issue until Ohio’s air and water are protected by scientifically sound regulations.  Check back to this blog for updates.

See OEC’s Comments to Ohio EPA on its General PermitG.A.S.P.’sComments on the General Permit; and Comments to US EPA’s Air Proposed Regulations


[1] Id.

[2] Wyoming DEQ, Oil and Gas Production Facilities Chapter 6, Section 2 Permitting Guidance (Mar. 2010) at 11,

16, & 20, available at:

http://deq.state.wy.us/aqd/Oil%20and%20Gas/March%202010%20FINAL%20O&G%20GUIDANCE.pdf.


[1] These numbers are current as of Nov. 28, 2011.  Lists of Utica and Marcellus shale permits are available at http://www.ohiodnr.com/portals/11/oil/pdf/Utica.pdf and http://www.ohiodnr.com/portals/11/oil/pdf/Marcellus.pdf, respectively.

Read Full Post »

The third installment in the OELC’s report on the State of Clean Water Act Violations in Ohio

(Posted by Trent A. Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council, Director of the Ohio Environmental Law Center)

A few weeks back, in our first two installments on the state of Ohio’s Clean Water Act enforcement, OELC shined its light on the Five Biggest discharge limit violators as well as the concern over Ohio schools and their contribution to water pollution.  Another group of Clean Water Act violators in Ohio are Mobile Home Parks.

These Mobile Home Parks have been a thorn in the side of water quality regulators (and water quality for that matter) for decades.  I have talked with attorneys who were on the very first Ohio EPA staff in the early 1970’s, and retired Assistant Attorneys General from the Environmental Enforcement Section, and they tell me the same thing, sewage discharges from trailer parks are constantly a problem.  In many cases, they say, the biggest culprits are those parks that are operated by out of state corporations that own multiple facilities throughout the country.  The feeling is, from these conglomerate owned parks, as long as the sign is lit and the grass is mowed, the wastewater system takes a backseat.  The result?  Effluent exceedences of Fecal Coliform, Nitrogen, and Total Suspended Solids of hundreds of times beyond the acceptable limits.

While definitely not the situation with every mobile home park, the number of violations, and recalcitrant violators make them a necessary target for compliance monitoring.  These parks thus account for a great share of the workload for Environmental Enforcement Section and in-house Ohio EPA lawyers.  Earlier this year, the AG’s office entered into a Consent Decree with Knollwood Mobile Home Park in Athens County, for a civil penalty of $100,000 from a Clean Water Act enforcement action.  In 2010, the Agency enforced violations through Director’s Findings and Orders against Chateau Estates Mobile Home Park (Springfield), and Hockingport MHP (Hockingport); and the AG’s Office secured judgment in Lake County against Sands Trailer Park & Sales Inc. , and a Consent Order in Stark County in a case against Hillview MHP.

What to do? What to do? – As a consistent water quality problem, the regulators must make these operations a priority.  Ohio EPA enforcement staff must continue to assist the operators to reach and sustain compliance with their discharge permits.  In many cases, that means forcing elimination of the discharge and hooking up to public sewers.  This is a costly proposition for many of the small operators, but a necessity for Ohio’s water quality.

For those who are constant repeat offenders, the Attorney General’s office should continue to make it a priority to investigate these operations, and prosecute these recalcitrants to the fullest extent to achieve future compliance.  Further, the state must seek penalties in amounts that are far greater than the benefit received from not following the law.  This is necessary tool in not only the state’s Clean Water Enforcement, but must be a staple in all enforcement of environmental, natural resource, and health laws.

Here are the four Mobile Home Parks that are giving Ohio’s watersheds a hard way to go.

R & M STATELINE LTD.

Located in Lowellville, OH, Stateline’s discharge outfall  drains to Kings Lake Tributary of Mill Creek (Mahoning River watershed).  While more sporadic than the parks listed below over the past three years, Stateline’s exceedences have been large at times.  For example, the exceedences from this outfall have been as high as 12,900% and 29,900% for Fecal Coliform, and 41,872 for Total Suspended Solids.

MILLBORNE MANOR WHP

Millborne Manor, in the Tuscarawas River Watershed near Orville, has seen 107 effluent exceedences over the past 12 Quarters from its two discharge outfalls.  These exceedenses have been for Total Suspended Solids, Nitrogen, Fecal Coliform, and Phosphorous.

VINTAGE VILLAGE ESTATES

Located in Girard, OH, this park discharges to Squaw Creek (Mahoning River watershed).  Consistently throughout the past three years (at least) Vintage Village Estates has exceeded its maximum enforceable limits of nitrogen (from 30-735%) and Total Suspended Solids (up to 817% above permit limit)

COUNTRY VIEW OF SUNBURY

This MHP, located in Sunbury, OH, discharges into Perfect Creek in the Upper Scioto Watershed.  The three years worth of discharges from Country View include exceedences of 2680% above its nitrogen limits, 350% of  its total suspended solids, and 680% of its fecal coliform.

*All four of these operations discharge into Section 303(d) listed, already impaired waters.

 

Read Full Post »

The second installment in the OELC’s report on the State’s Clean Water Act Violations in Ohio

(Posted by Trent A. Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council

First of all, the Ohio Environmental Law Center (OELC) would like to recognize the 39th Birthday of the Clean Water Act!  On October 18, 1972, both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives overrode President Richard Nixon’s veto of the 1972 Amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (otherwise known as the Clean Water Act).  Through challenges on jurisdiction, missed deadlines to eliminating pollution (still working on that), to the Act facing its current slings and arrows from the 112th Congress, the CWA has certainly cleaned the nation’s waterways and made water safe for millions of Americans.   The Clean Water Act has been most effective at cleaning up pollution from “point sources” such as sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities. In 1970, these sources accounted for 85% of the pollutants in our waters, and today account for only 15%.

However, compliance with the Act’s point source permit requirements by the thousands of regulated facilities in Ohio alone is a challenge.  Over 2,000 facilities in Ohio have had at least one effluent violation from their National Pollutant Elimination System (NPDES) permits over the pas three years.

We began the OELC series on Clean Water Act Enforcement and Compliance in Ohio on the theme of “Back to School,” shining a light on just a few of the many public schools that have had multiple and significant Clean Water Act violations for discharging tens, hundreds, even thousands of times the pollution limits in their  state permits.  As OELC attorneys reviewed thousands of NPDES compliance records, the numbers and amounts of exceedances of pollution limits from these institutions meant to teach our children was alarming.

However, as we recognized in the previous post, those schools are not necessarily the worst polluters in the state over the past three years – not by a long shot.  In this installment, we are focusing on the biggest NPDES violators in Ohio – the five facilities that, over the last three years, had over 100 effluent exceedances into already pollution impaired waters to the state.

In order to meet the promise of the Clean Water Act, we need to have strict enforcement of the permits and certifications, resulting in strict compliance with the letter and spirit of the law.  We need Good Actors incentivized to continue to be Good Actors.  We need disincentives that are strong and consistent, to turn Bad Actors (i.e. recitative violators) into Good Actors.  And of course, we resources for the state and federal regulators to monitor and investigate the thousands of regulated facilities, and the human resources of citizens to take the charge of being enforcers of the Act in their community.

“Can we afford clean water? Can we afford rivers and lakes and streams and oceans which continue to make life possible on this planet? Can we afford life itself? … These questions answer themselves.”  Senator Edmund Muskie’s question to his Senate colleagues in urging an override of President Nixon’s veto of the Clean Water Act on Oct. 17, 1972

OK, shining a light on 844 pollution incidents in three years from the  five facilities below, is not the best way to celebrate one’s 39th birthday.  Yet, the hope is that by next year, the Clean Water Act’s 40th will be cleaner. 

MILLBORNE MANOR WHP

Millborne Manor (Permit ID: OH0129836 )is a Mobile Home Community in Orrville, OH, discharging into an unnamed tributary to Sugar Creek in the Tuscarawas River Watershed.  Millborne Manor’s 107 pollution limit exceedances over the past 12 Quarters have included: Fecal Coliform exceedances up to 1900%; Nitrogen exceedances up to 3,680%; Phosphorus Violations exceeding 953%; and Total Suspended Solids exceedances from 42% to 983%.

 

VAGABOND VILLAGE

Vagabond Village (Permit ID: OH0132462) has had, over the past three years, 110 effluent exceedances violations, including violations for nitrogen, total suspended solids and fecal coliform.  Vagabond Village’s discharges into the Upper Maumee River, in a stretch designated in as impaired.

Over this 12 quarter period, Vagabond’s exceedances of fecal coliform have ranged from 4,900% to a high of 12,300%; exceeded limits for Nitrogen ranging from 7,010% to 21,000%, and Total Suspended Solids up to 3,550%.

Hilltop Meats

Hilltop Meats (Permit ID: OH0134112) has experienced 140 exceedances over the past 12 quarters.   This facility, located in Harrison, Ohio on the western edge of Hamilton County, discharges into Lower Great Miami, on an impaired stretch of the Great Miami.

Hilltop’s Clean Water Act violations for effluent exceedances include: Oil and grease exceedances of up to 3,650% its permit limit; Fecal Coliform exceedances up to 1,900%; and Nitrogen exceedances ranging from 4,900% to a staggering 95,900%.

To Ohio EPA’s credit, the Agency has issued eight (8) letters of violation to Hilltop since 2007.

HOLMES CHEESE CO INC

The Holmes Cheese Company (Permit ID: OH0075922) discharges from its treatment works into Corns Run in the Walhonding Watershed — a CWA 303 (d) listed impaired water).

Over the aforementioned Three-Year compliance period, Holmes Cheese has had 165 effluent exceedances, with a great number coming in the first six months of 2011.  For example, from the company’s Discharge point 001: Total Solids exceedances ranged from 229% to 1,817%; from 1,338% to 1,983% exceedances for Phosphorus; and Fecal Coliform exceedances from 72% to 1,233%.  In its second Discharge point (point 601) Phosphorus exceedances ranged between 2,393% to 2,954% and its Fecal Coliform exceedances ranged from 268% to 599%.

Belden Brick Company

Belden Brick Company(Permit ID: OH0008141), in Sugarcreek, Ohio, however takes first prize in the number of exceedances over the past 12 quarters – 322.  To Belden Brick’s defense, the company has a large number of outfalls from many mining operations, manufacturing plants, and its Central Maintenance Locations discharging into unnamed tributaries to the South Fork of Sugar Creek, Turkeyfoot Run, and an unnamed tributary of Broad Run in the Tuscarawas River Watershed.  What also makes Belden Brick different is the types of pollutants discharged.  For example, unlike the schools and the four previous facilities above who have exceedances for Nitrogen and Fecal Coliform, Belden Brick’s key violations are for exceedances of Total Iron and Total Manganese. From these 322 exceedances, the Ohio EPA has issued the facility 12 notices of violations.

The totals come from US EPA data supplied by the NPDES permit holders themselves.  The US EPA data is presented in total exceedances over each of 12 quarters, and current to April – June 2011.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »