EPA happenings: Flint flushing program and presidential student awards

April 26, 2016

The flushing program aims to remove loose particles of lead from service lines and from the pipes in homes and help distribute orthophosphate.

Flint residents advised to run water to speed system recovery

FLINT, Mich. — April 16, 2016 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Flint, said that people in Flint should run the water in their homes and businesses to aid in the recovery of the city’s drinking water system.

The recommended flushing program aims to remove loose particles of lead from service lines and from the pipes in homes and help distribute orthophosphate, the corrosion control chemical that builds a protective coating in pipes and protects against lead exposure.

Beginning May 1, the following steps are recommended for residents to flush the system:

  1. Run cold water at the highest flow in the bathtub for five minutes. Do not use the showerhead because it has a lower flow rate.
  2. Bypass or remove your filter, then run cold water at the highest flow from the kitchen faucet for five minutes. Remember to turn your filter back on or reinstall it when done. EPA testing has shown filters are effective at removing even very high levels of lead.
  3. Do this every day for 14 days.

The EPA explained that there will be no additional cost to residents related to this flushing program. Residents will be compensated for the cost associated with flushing in addition to receiving water credits already awarded by the state.

Current advice to Flint residents states they should only consume filtered or bottled water because of high lead levels in the water system.

Students earn President’s Environmental Youth Awards

SAN FRANCISO — April 19, 2016 — Two California students were recently honored with the 2015 President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Sanjana V. Shah, 14, of Cupertino, was recognized for her invention of a flow sensor network that uses real-time rain and stormwater data to assess her community’s flood risk. She showed that by identifying and fixing drainage pipe sizes and creating real-time alerts, community flooding can be prevented. The sensors Shah installed will alert nearby homes if water levels rise.

Eleven-year-old Joshua Cigoianu of Manhattan Beach received the award for his water conservation efforts, which involved educating his peers, ensuring an adequate number of recycle bins for water bottles and starting an Earth Library at school, among other activities.

State files lawsuit over sewage spills in Plymouth

BOSTON — April 21, 2016 — A wastewater treatment plant operator faces a lawsuit over alleged permit violations that resulted in the discharge of more than 10 million gallons of raw sewage in December 2015 and January 2016.

Veolia Water North America-Northeast LLC is accused of failing to properly maintain and operate the town of Plymouth’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system. The complaint also alleges that Veolia previously discharged improperly treated or untreated wastewater to Plymouth Harbor from the treatment facility.

U.S. agrees to $50M settlement to clean up Tennessee Superfund site

ATLANTA — April 22, 2016 — Under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA, OXY USA Inc., a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Company, will spend around $40 million clean up contaminated water and sediments in the Ocoee River and one of its watersheds at the Copper Basin Mining District Superfund Site in Polk County, Tennessee.

The company will maintain and operate a water treatment system at the site, prevent access by the public to contaminated water, and monitor contamination in the Ocoee River. The company will also reimburse the EPA approximately $10.8 million toward costs incurred in its past cleanup actions at the site.

EPA announces Campus RainWorks Challenge winners

SAN FRANCISCO — April 22, 2016 — Four schools across the country were recognized as winners in the EPA’s fourth annual RainWorks Challenge. The design competition was created to engage college students in the development of "green infrastructure systems and reduce stormwater pollution and building resilience to climate change."

Students teams competed in two categories: Master Plan, which focuses on how school campuses use green infrastructure broadly, and Demonstration Project, which deals with how green infrastructure is used in a particular site on campus.

The winners included:

TVA works to contain mining waste

ATLANTA — April 22, 2016 — The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) agreed to implement measures at its dams along a 38-mile stretch of the Ocoee River in order to prevent contaminants from becoming airborne.

The Copper Basin Mining District Superfund Site was the location of extensive copper, iron and sulfur mining operations, mineral processing and sulfuric acid production from the mid-1800s until 1989.

According to the EPA, wastes generated through those operations — including sulfuric acid, lead, mercury, PCBs and other contaminants — were disposed of in, on and around Davis Mill Creek and North Potato Creek, both of which discharge to the Ocoee River. These contaminants can still be found in the sediments and surface water at the site.

Settlement reached over cleanup at Omega Superfund site

WASHINGTON — April 20, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA agreed to a settlement with a group of 66 companies to clean up contaminated groundwater at a Superfund site in Southern California. The companies will spend an estimated $70 million to install wells and operate a groundwater treatment system at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site in Whittier, California.

The firms also agreed to reimburse the EPA $8 million and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control $70,000 toward costs incurred in earlier cleanup actions at the site.

The former chemical plant operated from approximately 1976 to 1991, handling drums and bulk loads of industrial waste solvents and chemicals that were processed to form commercial products. The EPA claims that subsurface soil and groundwater at the site have high concentrations of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), Freons and other contaminants.

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