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City of Great Falls and Malteurop North America agree to control toxic gases and raw sewage overflows to protect community

Release Date: 03/05/2014
Contact Information: Stephanie Gieck, gieck.stephanie@epa.gov, 303-312-6362 ; Richard Mylott, mylott.richard@epa.gov, 303-312-6654

(Denver, Colo. – March 5, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the City of Great Falls, Mont., and Malteurop North America, Inc. (Malteurop) have agreed to control wastewater discharges that generate high levels of toxic gas in the City’s sewer system. The City has also agreed to make improvements to its wastewater treatment system to reduce raw sewage overflows in the city and the Missouri River.

Under the terms of a consent decree lodged today in the U.S. District Court in Montana, Malteurop will pay a civil penalty of $525,000 for discharges from its malting plant on State Highway 87 that EPA alleges caused high levels of hydrogen sulfide to form in the City of Great Falls’ sewer system and will reimburse the City $21,396 for corrosion caused by the toxic gas. In addition, the City will pay a civil penalty of $120,000 and complete a supplemental project valued at $125,000 to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff during precipitation events.

“Our quality of life depends on clean water and the safe and effective operation of the wastewater treatment systems that serve our communities,” said Shaun McGrath, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver. “EPA is committed to protecting public health and the safety of those who operate and maintain our wastewater systems.”

Today’s settlement resolves alleged violations of Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations related to generation of hydrogen sulfide in the City’s sewer system. EPA attempted to address these violations through administrative orders and referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice when the violations remained unresolved. Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations protect public health and water resources by establishing responsibilities for municipalities and industrial facilities to control wastewater discharges before they are sent to collection and treatment facilities.

Malteurop’s malting plant discharges wastewater that contains high levels of organic matter as a result of barley processing. This organic matter, combined with a lack of oxygen in the sewer, causes the formation of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that poses dangers to workers and the public. The company has agreed to meet worker protection standards for hydrogen sulfide levels in the sewer system and plans to install a new service line that minimizes conditions that create the dangerous gas as a way to meet these standards.

The proposed consent decree also addresses alleged violations of the Clean Water Act associated with persistent sewage overflows in the City of Great Falls wastewater system. These include several dozen incidents of raw sewage backing up into residences and buildings and flowing in city streets, as well as discharges of raw or partially treated sewage to the Missouri River.

The City has agreed to remedy these harmful overflows and discharges by increasing capacity at its treatment plant, improving the enforcement of pretreatment requirements at facilities that cause blockages, evaluating the capacity and condition of the sewer system, and improving the operation and maintenance of collection systems.

The proposed settlement is detailed in a consent decree lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

A copy is available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

More information about pretreatment:
http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/pretreatment

More information about EPA’s national enforcement initiative: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiative-keeping-raw-sewage-and-contaminated-stormwater-out-our