Sewer board set to pay $12K fine

JOHNSTOWN — The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board next week is set to approve sending a one-time, $12,600 civil penalty payment to the state to satisfy old sewage treatment plant odors.

Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Wallace Arnold this week said the board is looking to approve final action at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the facility.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this summer hit the cities’ sewer plant with violations, requiring a total payment of $12,600 in civil fines related to past odors.

Officially, the DEC found the sewer plant in violation of its State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or SPDES Permit.

The sewer board on Aug. 14 discussed making a one-time payment of $12,600 to satisfy the penalty in full. But that action was contingent upon approval by the facility’s legal counsel, attorney Mark Schachner of Miller, Mannix, Schachner and Hafner, LLC in Glens Falls.

“He did say it was okay,” Arnold said Wednesday.

The board previously discussed DEC’s Order of Consent received in July. A Community Action Plan was developed by Arnold, per a requirement of the order. Per the order, the facility had the option of paying $6,300 the first year and the same amount during the following year.

Both cities have already signed off on the violations. The violations were because of ongoing odor problems the facility has had related to start up of its Contact Absorption Settling Thickening system, or CAST system process. The sewage treatment plant several years ago underwent an $8 million CAST upgrade to treat waste byproducts mainly from two Johnstown Industrial Park companies — cheese manufacturer Euphrates Inc. and yogurt manufacturer Fage USA. But the upgraded, more modern CAST system had been unusable in the early years because it generated strong odors in the sewer plant area.

Officials said the CAST system spawned unacceptable, rotten-egg odors at the plant, which spread into parts of Johnstown. But the CAST system is needed to process large amounts of whey, especially from top sewer plant customer FAGE USA.

Arnold said that when the facility started up the CAST system — going back to August and September 2015 — odors were widespread throughout the plant area of Johnstown. He said the odors continued quite a bit for two years, but in recent years a chemical process has been introduced to help mitigate some of the odor.

DEC in January first gave the sewer plant permission to use potassium permanganate to help alleviate odors. But the state put the following conditions on the facility: Continue WET testing, notify DEC if odor complaints are received, provide a report detailing the effectiveness of the pilot project, and provide for an engineering study to resolve odor issues if the pilot project is unsuccessful.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

By Josh Bovee

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