Oklahoma DEQ fines Broken Arrow over two sewage spills
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 8:40 AM
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BROKEN ARROW - The state Department of Environmental Quality has fined the city for failing to report two sewage spills near the same neighborhood this year.
The first spill, which flowed into a creek from a manhole in the Woodland Park at Aspen Creek neighborhood near Aspen Avenue and Broadway Street, was discovered March 1 after a resident complained to the DEQ, according to a report from the agency provided Tuesday to the Broken Arrow City Council.
A DEQ inspector found that the creek had been chemically disinfected but that "raw sewage and solids" remained, the report says. The sewage was removed after the inspector contacted the city, it adds.
The agency has fined the city $2,500 and given it a deadline to replace 600 feet of the neighborhood's sewer line as part of a deal to avoid a larger fine. The city will also have to submit revised procedures for reporting spills.
City spokeswoman Stephanie Higgins said the spills were caused by tree roots that had grown into the line and blocked the flow. No overflows have occurred since the roots were removed, she said.
"We always take these issues seriously, and as soon as we realized there was a problem, our crews began to investigate and rectify the situation," she said. "We typically don't know there is an issue with a line until after the discharge has occurred. However, we make every effort to get repairs completed in a timely manner."
The DEQ alleges that the city violated federal requirements to stop and clean the spills immediately, to report them orally within 24 hours of becoming aware of them and then to report them in writing within five days.
The fine for those violations would be $10,000, but the agency agreed to waive $7,500 if the remainder is paid by Dec. 1 and if the city meets a timetable for the additional stipulations, according to the report.
The city will have to submit revised reporting procedures by Jan. 1, hire an engineer for the new sewer line by March 1, begin construction by Sept. 29 and finish by Jan. 31, 2014.
A staff report to the City Council says that timetable "could be met without difficulty."
The city reportedly had told the DEQ in response to a formal notice of the violations in May that it had already revised its reporting procedures and would replace the line.
According to the DEQ, a calcium hypochlorite solution - an unapproved cleaning method, according to the agency's report - had been used to disinfect the first spill near 300 S. Poplar Ave.
A follow-up inspection March 7 found that cleaning was still needed, but all sewage had been removed by the next inspection on March 13, the report says.
The DEQ reported receiving a complaint about the second spill on April 19. That spill, near 900 W. Commercial St., just east of the Woodland Park at Aspen Creek neighborhood, came from the same sewer line as the first, a city official told a DEQ inspector.
The second spill had been stopped by an April 23 inspection, but the DEQ's report says additional cleanup was still needed.
Original Print Headline: State DEQ fines BA over two sewage spills
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486