October 2022 Vol. 77 No. 10


Newsline: St. Louis Modifies $4.7 Billion Sewer Plan to Reduce Community Impact

St. Louis Modifies $4.7 Billion Sewer Plan to Reduce Community Impact 

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) has proposed revisions to its $4.7 billion, 25-year sewer overhaul project to reduce the project’s impact on underserved communities. 

The modifications to the sewer project include replacing two wastewater storage tunnels with a single storage tunnel, reducing traffic and construction impacts in the Richmond Heights area, a community already disproportionately affected by heavy traffic and pollution exposure. The revision will also reduce the need for purchasing residential properties and easement acquisition. 

“EPA commends MSD’s efforts to improve their long-term sewer project to benefit the community, consumers and the environment,” Meg McCollister, EPA Region 7 administrator, said.  

MSD is about 10 years into completing the project, a massive effort to upgrade the city’s aging sewer system by separating areas with combined sewer and stormwater pipes that lead to discharges of sewage into the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The project was approved by a federal district court in 2012, as part of a Consent Decree to resolve ongoing Clean Water Act violations alleged by EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Open Season Launched for Permian Produced Water Gathering Pipeline 

Palisade Pipeline LLC announced in September it is running a non-binding open season on its Rail Runner produced water gathering system in the Northern Delaware Basin. 

The open season allowed producers and midstream operators an opportunity to enter into long-term contractual commitments for the Rail Runner pipeline up until Oct. 7. 

The Rail Runner pipeline would transport water from the Northern Delaware Basin in Lea County, N.M., to saltwater disposal well systems in Winkler County, Texas, with construction along Highway 18 in the Watco Railroad right-of-way. 

Additionally, Palisade said its infrastructure can serve as a water distribution system for beneficial reuse in the fields along the right-of-way route. Currently, the Rail Runner project has 150,000 bbl/day of available disposal volume with plans to expand that capacity up to 500,000 bbl/day. 

Former Pittsburgh Water-Sewer Supervisor Sentenced for River Pollution 

Following a guilty plea, U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV sentenced Glenn Lijewski to three years of probation for his role in polluting the Allegheny River. 

Lijewski, a former supervisor at the Aspinwall Drinking Water Plant, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The drinking water plant sits along with Allegheny River and is operated by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA). 

Between 2010 and 2017, Lijewski and another supervisor discharged clarifier sludge into the river and directed PWSA employees  
to discharge sludge into the river. 

“Over time, an island formed in the river at the point where the discharges were taking place,” the DOJ said. “According to the indictment, a number of employees at the plant referred to the buildup as ‘Glenn’s Island.’” 

Lijewski’s plea agreement requires him to share his experiences with others involved in water treatment to encourage protection of rivers. 

Hawaii Unseals Corruption, Bribery Case Involving Wastewater Contracts 

A Hawaii business owner and a Maui County official have been charged with bribery and public corruption involving more than $2 million in cash and gifts, according to unsealed federal court documents. 

Milton Choy, the owner of a Honolulu company that provides wastewater services and supplies, is accused of bribing Stewart Olani Stant, who was a wastewater manager and then director of the Maui County Department of Environmental Management. 

Choy provided Stant with cash deposited directly to Stant’s bank accounts, cash, plus gambling chips and trips to Las Vegas, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Clare Connors said at a news conference. 

In return, prosecutors said Choy received upwards of $19 million in business contracts from the county. 

Choy took responsibility for his actions and admitted everything he did to federal investigators, said his attorney, Michael Green. 

Mississippi Business Owner Pleads Guilty in Clean Water Case 

The co-owner of a Mississippi fat and oil recycling business has pleaded guilty for his role in illegally discharging industrial waste into the City of Jackson’s sewer system, federal prosecutors said. 

Robert David Douglas, of Flowood, admitted authorizing payments on behalf of Brandon, Mississippi-based Gold Coast Commodities, Inc. for the transportation and disposal of its industrial waste to a facility which was not a legal discharge point designated by the Jackson Wastewater Treatment System, U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca said in a news release. 

Douglas, 60, will be sentenced Nov. 9 after a federal judge considers sentencing guidelines “and other statutory factors,” LaMarca’s office said. 

Four Families Sue US Navy Over Fuel-Tainted Tap Water in Hawaii 

The U.S. Navy “harbored toxic secrets” when jet fuel contaminated drinking water for 93,000 military members and civilians in Hawaii, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday from four families who say they’re still suffering from seizures, gastrointestinal disorders and neurological issues. 

Hundreds of additional claims are expected from those who ingested the toxic water, said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu. Others going through the administrative process of the Federal Tort Claims Act will be added to the lawsuit. 

At least twice last year, thousands of gallons of jet fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, a massive World War II-era military-run tank farm in the hills above Pearl Harbor, leaked into a well that supplied water to homes and offices in and around the sprawling base. 

A Navy investigation blamed the water crisis on shoddy management and human error. 

Each family lived in a home at or near Pearl Harbor with water provided by the Navy. The plaintiffs include an Army major, a Navy ensign, a Navy senior chief petty officer and an Air Force technical sergeant, according to the lawsuit. 

Judge Rules Pipeline Can Keep Operating after Canada Invokes Treaty  

A Wisconsin judge has ruled Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline is trespassing on land belonging to the Bad River Band but allowed it to continue operating because a shutdown would have public and foreign policy implications.  

The ruling from District Judge William Conley, which came after Canada invoked a pipeline treaty to keep Line 5 operating, also said the band was entitled to financial compensation from Enbridge, without specifying how much.  

A 12-mile section of the pipeline crosses Bad River tribal land, but easements allowing Enbridge to use the land expired in 2013. In 2019 the band filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction that would force Enbridge to cease operations and remove the pipeline.  

While the judge ruled in favor of the band’s trespass claims, he held back from granting an injunction because a shutdown “would have significant public policy implications on the trade relationship between the United States and Canada.”  

Line 5 ships 540,000 barrels-per-day of crude and refined products from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario and is a key link in Enbridge’s Mainline network importing Canadian crude to U.S refineries.  

NTSB Opens Public Docket for Investigation of Arizona Pipeline Rupture 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened the public docket as part of its ongoing investigation of the fatal, Aug. 15, 2021, natural gas transmission pipeline rupture and fire near Coolidge, Arizona. 

The 30-inch pipeline, owned and operated by Kinder Morgan, ruptured and released natural gas that ignited, resulting in an explosion, fire, and ejection of a 46-foot section of the pipeline. One residence was destroyed by the explosion and fire, resulting in two fatalities and one injury. 

The docket for this investigation includes more than 1,200 pages of information, including reports on pipeline operations, human performance, metallurgical testing, and emergency response efforts. It also includes interview transcripts, photographs, employee training records, and other investigative materials. 

The docket contains only information collected by NTSB investigators and does not contain analysis, findings, recommendations or probable cause determinations, which will be issued in a final NTSB report. 

Grand Canyon’s South Rim Restricts Water after Waterline Break 

The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park began phasing into greater water restrictions and conservation measures in September due to a series of breaks in the Transcanyon Waterline, park officials said. 

Until park staff repair the break and water in storage tanks reaches sustainable levels, officials say the park will remain in conservation mode. In addition to the new changes, all existing conservation measures remain in place for both the North and South rims. 

Under existing water restrictions, park staff and partners reportedly have been able to conserve water by using disposable dishes and utensils in restaurants, serving water by request only, adopting low water-use methods to clean hotel rooms, and practicing basic water conservation measures at home and work. 

Park officials temporarily closed all concessions services and overnight lodging at Phantom Ranch due to the waterline breaks. 

Kalamazoo Neighborhood Evacuated after Underground Gas Line Fire 

Authorities evacuated several homes in a Kalamazoo, Mich., neighborhood after a ruptured gas line caught fire. 

Firefighters reported a 4-inch (10-centimeter) natural gas line ruptured and was burning underground in a construction zone, the Kalamazoo Gazette said. 

Police and firefighters evacuated all homes within a one-block radius of the fire, and police diverted traffic away from the area. Gas meters to nearby homes were shut off as a precaution. 

Natural gas utility Consumers Energy was called in to help with the gas leak. 

Oil Company Settles Criminal Cases in California Pipeline Spill 

A Houston-based oil company pleaded guilty in federal court to negligently discharging crude off the Southern California coast when its underwater pipeline ruptured last year, a spill that closed miles of shoreline and shuttered fisheries. 

Amplify’ Energy’s pipeline spilled about 25,000 gallons of oil off the Orange County coast, resulting in beach closures for a week and fisheries for more than a month. Amplify contended that two ships dragged their anchors across the pipeline and damaged it during a January 2021 storm, but the company wasn’t notified about the dragging until after the spill. Without this damage, Amplify argued, the spill would not have happened. 

In federal court in Santa Ana, Amplify and its subsidiaries each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The plea came after the companies agreed with federal prosecutors to pay a $7 million fine and nearly $6 million in expenses incurred by agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard. 

In the federal agreement, Amplify also agreed to install a new leak detection system for the pipeline that ferried crude from offshore platforms to the coast. They also said they would train employees to identify and respond to potential leaks. Federal authorities said the company and its subsidiaries failed to respond to eight leak detection alarms over a 13-hour period that should have alerted workers to the October 2021 spill. UC 



NY Governor Awards $232 million for Water Infrastructure Projects 

Governor Kathy Hochul has authorized more than $232 million to seven municipalities for drinking water and sewer infrastructure projects across New York. The grants and low-cost financing packages approved by the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation board of directors will support water infrastructure projects totaling more than $763 million. 

The financial assistance approved by the board includes short-term financings and grants that will provide capital to local governments to help get shovels in the ground for critical projects. The board also approved various long-term financing conversions that provide interest relief for completed projects and help reduce debt for municipalities. 

So far, approximately $200 million in interest-free financing has been approved for three wastewater treatment plant projects in Long Island that improve resiliency and water quality.  

The board’s approvals include financings through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and grants already announced pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvement (WIIA) program. 

Jacobs to Design Infrastructure for Ireland’s $1.5 Billion Wastewater Program 

Jacobs said it has been selected as a design consultant for Northern Ireland Water’s (NI Water) Major Project Partnership Framework, a $1.5 billion capital program set to deliver large-scale water and wastewater projects across Northern Ireland. 

The framework will deliver individual capital projects, including upgrades to major water and wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and network mains. The framework will run for an initial four-year period, with the option to extend for an additional four years. 

NI Water provides water and sewerage services to approximately 840,000 households and businesses in Northern Ireland. 

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