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Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)

August 8, 2000

Melinda Greene
U.S. EPA Region 4
Atlanta Federal Center
Water Management Division
Water Programs Enforcement Branch (WPEB)
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303-8960

Re: Louisville and Jefferson County Municipal Sewer District KPDES Permit No: KY0022411 Violations of Pretreatment rules

Ms Greene,

I have sent a copy of this letter to EPA Enforcement in both Atlanta and Washington. It is objectionable that you are conducting a Project XL with Louisville and Jefferson County MSD while both the state NPDES authority and Region 4 have not investigated the reports of Clean Water Act violations brought to your attention and stated herein below.

As I objected in my letter of December 19, 1999, the public interested in improving stream water quality has no benefit from MSD removing monitoring requirements for indirect dischargers to the Jeffersontown WWTP. The promises of superior environmental performance remain vague in the FPA and I again object to EPA and MSD signing an agreement to provide authority for MSD to remove reporting and monitoring requirements for indirect dischargers unless a clear proposal for specific funded projects providing demonstrable SEP is on the table.

Please follow the guidelines for Project XL Agreements and deny this Project based on the failure by MSD and the state NPDES authority to effectively regulate indirect dischargers and to report the relevant facts to EPA of the causes of the bioroughing tower collapse.

1) USEPA Step III grant, #C210553-07 totaling $10,256,677 dollars was used to build a wastewater treatment process that failed- namely the Bioroughing Towers 1 & 2 at MFWTP that collapsed on December 22, 1995 after less than 1 year of operation. Documents show that MSD failed to report many relevant facts to the state authority and that the state authority failed to report relevant facts to the granting agency about the causes of the collapse.

2) DuPont Dow Elastomers reported a major discharge of chloroform during the days immediately prior to the failure of the towers and later furnished to MSDs IWD, documents showing very large concentrations and loadings of TSS and chloroform on December 22, 1995. The loadings effect of the solvent chloroform on residual solids in the Rubbertown Force Main has not been investigated with respect to causing clogging in the tower media.

3) MSD hired Wiss Janney Elstner, a forensic engineering firm to conduct dismantling and documentation of the tower No 2. WJE failed to review many contributing factors to the failure of tower No. 2 including-- they failed to present the pre-collapse history of solid accumulation. This was highlighted by TSS influent and TSS effluent monitoring performed on the tower as part of the grant certification performance requirements. This operating data showed the towers accumulated 3.6 million pounds of solids in November 1-December 4, 1995 but discharged 11.5 million pounds in a large sloughing event by December 22, the date of the collapse. WJE concluded that the average extraction weight of the media bundles (167 lbs in tower 2) meant that the accumulation of solids was not a factor in the collapse. This ignores that the bundles had an average weight of 486.8 lbs on December 4, 1995 based on TSS calculations. Yet, the tower collapsed only later, at high plant flows of nearly 65 MGD through each tower after millions of tons of weight had been shed. Laboratory analysis of samples collected by WJE on Jan 3, 1996 confirmed latex, methyl methacrylate, butyl acrylate and polystyrene was the principal component of solids hanging in rods from the underside of the plastic media and photographed on December 25, 27 and other times.

4) Subsequent to the collapse, MFWTP failed to meet effluent limits for BOD and TSS and struggled to meet permit terms and conditions while rebuilding the towers.

5) MSD filed suit against the designer Camp Dresser McKee and the builder 3-D Enterprises Contracting and settled out of court. WJE prepared documents that showed that the concrete 6'' X 6'' by 8 foot media support beams were undersized for a design load of 640 lbs per media bundle. Based on the claims of structural failure, MSD claimed force majeure exemption from fines and penalties. The investigation of the circumstances of the collapse and the presentation to state authorities was limited to the deficiencies of the support beams and ignored the chloroform and solids data that suggests that clogging caused pooling of water in media cells and the velocity and volume of water through the clogged media caused the failure. Gary Levy did not set foot on the plant premises from the date of the collapse until the middle of April 1996 after removal of the media bundles was well underway. The state made no independent investigation of the tower failure and admitted in interrogatory that all information they had was provided by MSD.

This well documented interference caused by indirect dischargers to MSDs main treatment plant has not been investigated by the state NPDES authority for violations of permit and pretreatment rules. It is therefore not acceptable that these Kentucky agencies be entrusted with regulatory flexibility to remove requirements on indirect dischargers.


Bud Hixson
1336 Hepburn Ave #4
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 587-8016

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