PDT Staff Writer
Inspectors with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Division of Surface Water were in Nile Township on Thursday to conduct an inspection of a suspected compromised collection tank used by the township fire department.
“They (EPA inspectors) confirmed that the fire department had put in a three inch bypass line in the holding tank. Our inspectors asked them to remove that bypass line. They had capped it but we needed it to be plugged with concrete,” said Erin Strouse, Ohio EPA spokeswoman.
She said with the bypass line, “They were bypassing the intent of the holding tank. It was not operating as it should be. The contents of the tank were being bypassed to a field beside the firehouse.”
Strouse said the tank is equipped with a high water alarm that wasn’t hooked up, but needed to be hooked up.
“We also asked them to pump their tank as needed and keep records of their pumping, should we ever need to look at those records,” Strouse said. “We did not see any evidence of grease, oil or any spills on the ground. Apparently the tank had not been overflowing.”
She said the department had not been keeping record of when the tank had been pumped.
“They had not been keeping records. They had pumped the tank out once since it was installed,” Strouse said. “At the time of the inspection the tank was getting to be full, so it does need to be pumped.”
She said as a followup to the inspection, the EPA will summarize the issues in a letter that will be sent to the township. Strouse said once the letter is received the township will have 30 days to respond.
As they cooperate with us we don’t necessarily jump to any enforcement action, which may or may not result in civil penalties. The biggest issue is stopping any potential environmental impacts, it does not sound in this case there were any that we are aware of. We are glad this issue was brought to our attention, so we can prevent that,” Strouse said.
She said that Nile Township Trustee Gene Rideout and other township employees were present during the inspection. She said the fire chief was not available.
According to Mike Settles, Ohio EPA Spokesman, “Ohio EPA approved a permit to install a septic system and holding tank at the department in April of 2011.”
At the Monday, Sept. 17 meeting of the Nile Township Trustees, questions were asked by residents of the trustees about the situation.
“It is our understanding that a required waste management tank was installed to retain contaminants washed off the fire trucks after each fire. It is our understanding that this tank was pumped one time within a month of the new department opening,” said Dauphane Thompson a resident of Nile Township at Monday’s trustees meeting.
According to township officials, the tank in question is designed to hold 1,200 gallons.
“We have reason to believe that this EPA-required tank has been compromised and that the contaminants are now leaching out into the water table,” Thompson said.
According to Thompson, the tank cost $15,000.
According to the trustees, they were not aware of the tank being compromised.
“We will do a followup inspection at some point to make sure they have taken these approate actions,” Strouse said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.