The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Culpeper upgrading plant to satisfy EPA
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
The town of Culpeper is nearing its completion of about $100,000 in water treatment plant upgrades that were required after a 2008 chlorine leak.
That leak cost the municipality a $27,420 penalty.
The negotiated fine resulted from the release of 106 pounds of chlorine into the atmosphere, according to an Environmental Protection Agency news release.
“In addition, the town did not notify the state and did not provide the state or local emergency planning committee with written follow-up reports about the incident” the release states.
“We settled with EPA several months ago. We have already paid the penalty,” Mayor Chip Coleman said Thursday. “We are 80 percent complete with our upgrades.”
The upgrades and settlement penalty were approved by the Town Council in April. The upgrades include a changeover in the town’s disinfectant system.
“Staff has been planning for several years to replace the gas chlorine system with a liquid bleach system due to potential safety issues due to the location of [the] plant [which is now] surrounded by a new subdivision,” said plant operations manager Chris Hively. “We were able to get EPA to approve this project as the demonstration project.”
During an inspection, the EPA also identified other problems, “including failure to develop a management system to oversee a risk management program, failure to implement safe work practices to maintain equipment, and failure to conduct compliance audits,” the news release states.
Chlorine released into the atmosphere can be a respiratory irritant and can lead to temporary skin irritations and breathing problems for people who are exposed, according to the EPA. It can be toxic in large concentrations.