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Kiger Calls For City to Ax Veolia Featured

Written by  Thursday, 03 October 2019 18:03
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State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today called on the City of Heavener to cancel its contract with Veolia for the treatment and delivery of water.

 

Kiger said the Aug. 28 inspection by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) shows 27 Oklahoma Administrative Code violations and seven Notices of Violations related to producing water. DEQ’s report clearly illustrates that black water started appearing in the water lines of the citizens and businesses of Heavener only after Veolia started working to produce water.

 

“I have used the timeline of 25 years ago when our company was asked to bring in our water professionals at the request of the city to help with water issues,” Kiger said. “According to city leaders, Veolia has been under contract for the last year. But, 25 years ago Veolia had a 20-year run, and when Veolia went away for four years, the Veolia people were kept on at the city water plant until Veolia returned last year. So over the past 25 years, Veolia, or Veolia's water technicians, have been a large part of the water plant's history and problems. From this report, Veolia is the source of the black water while the city pays Veolia for producing water and treating wastewater at approximately $194,000 per month.

 

“The DEQ report clearly shows much incompetence from Veolia at the water plant beginning with lack of communications, who's responsible for certain chemicals in the distribution system, technicians not testing raw water entering the plant, chemicals did not have measuring devices for the feed rate, several chemicals had excessive feed lines, technicians were unsure of the parameters triggering various alarms, technicians were also not sure what certain alarm sounds were indicating, and some equipment not working properly or at all,” Kiger said.

 

“The most troubling violations (turbidity) from the report were related to operations. From October 2018 to the date of the assessment, Monthly Operating Reports could not be verified or even matched with past records that had also been sent to DEQ as facts. In fact, the records for turbidity couldn't be located as well. In addition, the meters measuring turbidity at the water plant were not even in the proper locations to even correctly measure turbidity. So, at this point, it appears that Veolia violated turbidity which is a primary and serious offense related to public health,” Kiger.

 

“With the same values recorded and reported to DEQ for turbidity for many months in a row, it's evident that incorrect values were recorded and this appears to me to likely fall into the category of falsification of data. To back this up, DEQ brought in hand-held meters to measure turbidity, and DEQ showed the water at the plant had two-and-a-half times higher turbidity compared to Veolia's numbers.

 

“In addition to high turbidity that isn't properly treated, this breeds the opportunity for bacteria to hide and make its way into the distribution system and into homes. Other chemicals that posed possible health issues is a lack of chlorine in the water lines to the homes, low Ph – below 7 – causing corrosion in water lines and breaking up the metals and other chemicals, along with hard starts when flushing lines that shocks or helps put pressure on water lines. Without a proper amount of chlorine, water received will also have living bacteria and organisms making its way to residents.

 

“On top of all of this someone has to sign off on these records produced by Veolia to DEQ as facts. This could very well turn into an ordeal of its own if chemical reports are confirmed as incorrect or falsified. This is serious enough that criminal charges can be issued.

“When you look at just a few of the items I pulled from the DEQ report, and with Veolia lying to city leaders about the source of black water and the requirement of an A Operator, it's evident that Veolia has put the city of Heavener in a bad and costly situation. It's also time for city leaders to step up and end the agreement with Veolia right now before more damage is done, fines are issued, violations become criminal, or the risk of public health is increased!

 

“For over 25 years Veolia has lied to city officials that old pipes are causing the black water. The water professionals that I assembled helped educate the public on what's really going on, and I hope the city officials who attended these meetings were also educated. Clean water will now cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair what Veolia should have known from the beginning. But now that DEQ has conducted a complete inspection, with more to come, the people of Heavener are on the right road in getting clean water that will help this beautiful community to flourish in the future, without having to spend $194,000 a month.”

 

 

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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