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Pollution Update 5-8-14

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a $7,800 penalty against the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC) last week for causing pollution of waters of the state in February. MWMC operates the Eugene-Springfield wastewater collection and treatment system, including the treatment plant on River Avenue and the “biosolids management facility” on Awbrey Lane. On Feb. 8, staff at the treatment plant pumped 221,000 gallons of treated sludge to the biosolids facility, where there was a power outage, resulting an a 100,000 gallon sludge overflow, 54,000 gallons of which flowed to a storm drainage ditch that flows to Flat Creek. DEQ noted in a letter to MWMC that, “sewage sludge contains pollutants and pathogens that can harm aquatic life, contaminate drinking waters, and impair recreational, commercial and agricultural uses of water. Discharge of sewage sludge to waters of the state poses a significant threat to public health and the environment.” 

The city of Eugene recently sent the Albertson’s on West 18th in Eugene a letter requesting cleaning and regular inspection of catch basins near their loading dock, due to the fact that monitoring has demonstrated that these catch basins are significantly contributing to bacteria concentrations in stormwater discharges, which flow to nearby Amazon Creek, which is listed by DEQ as “impaired” due to high bacteria concentrations. DEQ recently released a pre-enforcement notice it sent to Christopher J. Bartels (who does business as Bartels Packing) in February for discharging blood wastes to Fern Ridge Reservoir during an announced inspection by DEQ. DEQ noted that animal blood wastes are hazardous to public health and the environment, and that the discharge posed risk of significant environmental harm. Bartels was fined over $15,000 by DEQ for similar violations last June (EW 6/27, goo.gl/Xb41PD).