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U.S., Pa. Settle Clean Water Act Case Against Bradford Sanitary Authority to End Raw Sewage Discharges

Release Date: 4/15/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlement of a joint federal-state lawsuit against the Bradford Sanitary Authority, McKean County, Pa. that will help prevent untreated sewage from being discharged into Tunungwant Creek and reduce the threat of contamination from abandoned oil and gas wells nearby.
The authority operates the wastewater treatment facility at 410 Seward Ave., Bradford, Pa. that treats up to 6.3 million gallons per day of sewage from the city of Bradford and nearby municipalities.
The U.S. and Pennsylvania cited the authority for violating the Clean Water Act and its state-issued discharge permit by discharging untreated sewage into Tunungwant Creek. The complaint also alleged that the authority failed to adequately implement its industrial pretreatment program by failing to: conduct required pollution monitoring; re-evaluate pollution limits for industrial dischargers; and, enforce requirements for industrial users of the wastewater treatment plant.

Under the proposed consent decree, which was lodged in federal court, the authority agreed to correct the violations and comply with applicable Clean Water Act requirements. EPA estimates that the corrective actions will reduce overflows by approximately 5.1 million gallons per year. This will reduce the introduction of disease-causing micro-organisms into the waterway and improve the overall health of Tunungwant Creek.

The authority also agreed to pay a $40,000 penalty for the violations, and to complete a $60,000 project to plug abandoned oil and gas wells in the Tuna Valley watershed. This project will help reduce the threat of oil- or gas-contaminated runoff into the Tunungwant Creek.

Under the Clean Water Act, certain public wastewater treatment authorities must enforce a pretreatment program, requiring industrial users to limit pollutants discharged to municipal plants. The pretreatment standards – which are enforced through permits issued to industrial users – are designed to avoid overburdening the plants’ treatment capacity. According to the complaint, the authority failed to take appropriate enforcement action against companies that violated their pretreatment permits.

During the settlement discussions in this case the authority completed repairs to its wastewater collection system and, consequently, has not had a sanitary sewer overflow since October 2001.

As part of the settlement, the authority neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.