Brewer’s wastewater treatment plant became clogged and the city will pay a $35,000 fine after the clog sent more than a million gallons of wastewater into the Penobscot River.
The city of Brewer, Maine, will pay a $35,000 fine after a pump station clog sent more than a million gallons of wastewater into the Penobscot River.
This is in violation of the city’s discharge permits, reported The Bangor Daily News.
The agreement is with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and comes more than two years after the December 2018 violation, when pumps at Brewer’s wastewater treatment plant became clogged with wet wipes, rags and other debris, according to The Bangor Daily News.
The clogging caused the pump station to fail and sent approximately 1.2 million gallons of untreated wastewater into the Penobscot River. The pipes were clogged for about a week.
The city utilized an outside contractor to drain the pumping station’s wet well and give employees access to the pipes, said Brewer Director of Environmental Services Ken Locke, reported The Bangor Daily News.
According to Locke, rain and high temperatures that caused snowmelt made the clogged pipes worse.
The Brewer City Council approved the consent agreement on Apr. 13. This is Brewer’s first settlement with the DEP since 1992, reported The Bangor Daily News.
According to Locke, he called the DEP the day the pump station failed and first received the consent decree from the agency around May 2019. There have been negotiations to lower the city’s fine that have delayed its signing, as the DEP originally wanted Brewer to pay $45,280 but lowered the fine by more than $10,000 after negotiations, reported The Bangor Daily News.
Brewer installed a new $1.2 million pump station in May 2020 and has not had any problems with clogging since. The new pump station now has a system in place to eject wipes before they can clog the system.
The consent agreement will go before the Board of Environmental Protection and after the board signs the agreement, it will put new requirements on Brewer officials.