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Kiger Asks Why Veolia’s Contract Not Canceled Featured

Written by  Friday, 01 November 2019 13:28
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Press release

 

State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today commented on the inaction of the Heavener City Council against water provider Veolia in the city of Heavener.

 

In a special meeting of the Heavener Utility Authority on Tuesday night, the Heavener City Council voted to take no action related to the contract with Veolia, and probably won't terminate if they get their way, Kiger said.

 

“In side bar conversations with city leaders, they admit they don't think they have a legal standing to terminate the contract as written and are afraid of what Veolia will do if the city did terminate the contract, or if Veolia decided to pull out on their own,” he said.

 

“While Veolia has been making unacceptable water for over two decades and sending this dirty water down the lines to the public, many including myself don't see a down side with Veolia packing their bags and leaving town. But still, city leaders don't think they have a right under the contract to terminate, or, some on the City Council doesn't want to see Veolia go away.

 

Even though most of us aren't attorneys, let's review key parts of language in the agreement and make our own decision if the city has a right to terminate or not.

 

Veolia just received a written report from an August 28 Department of Environmental Quality water treatment plant inspection that resulted in seven Notice of Violations and 27 deficiencies with detailed language of what Veolia hasn't done that included a penalty for their inaction and Veolia receiving a $3 million fine.

 

This alone tells you as a water producing company that you've done just about everything wrong and very little right or in compliance. To date, Veolia has been found to be in violation of so many state regulations but still city leaders are hesitant or scared to make a decision.

 

So let's go to the wording of the contract and look at only three sections to see what it says.

 

VWNA-Veolia Water North America: OWNER-City of Heavener:

 

10.2 A Party may only terminate this Agreement for a material breach of the Agreement by the other Party, only after giving written notice of breach; and except in case of a breach by OWNER for non-payment of VWNA invoices, in which case termination may be immediate by VWNA, only after allowing the other Party thirty (30) days to cure or commence taking reasonable steps to cure the breach.

 

City Option: Write Veolia a letter that many serious breaches have been found from the written report from DEQ that included a $3 million fine to Veolia and the city has a right to terminate.

 

1.9 If any litigation is necessary to enforce the terms of this Agreement, the prevailing Party shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees which are directly attributed to such litigation in addition to any other relief to which it may be entitled.

 

City Option: It's pretty clear that the city doesn't make potable water and hired Veolia to make the water for the public, and Veolia is required under state law to follow all regulations. It's clear that Veolia broke dozens of state rules and regulations, and the city has a strong case against Veolia if Veolia fought the city for terminating the current contract.

 

2.1 VWNA shall provide a sufficient number of certified and qualified personnel, including management, administrative, operational, technical, laboratory and clerical, who meet relevant State of Oklahoma requirements and certifications regarding water and wastewater treatment operations, maintenance and management and are capable and demonstrate experience necessary to operate the facilities covered by this Agreement.

 

City Option: This is strong language for the city as Veolia failed multiple times related to 2.1. During the August 28 water plant inspection, DEQ states in their September findings and report that there were no flow meters to analyze how much water from each of the two different raw water sources was being delivered to the water treatment plant.

 

There was no testing for iron, manganese and Ph for either source prior to entering the water treatment plant. Chemical dosing is dependent on knowing the properties of the incoming raw water in order to meet primary and secondary MCL's, and the report said this is a significant oversite by Veolia.

 

Veolia staff could not provide any information to DEQ as to source or basis for the dosing formulas used. DEQ found sample taps were not equipped properly for specific water testing. Filters were packed and unable to remove turbidity. Both lagoons were inoperable and one with excess vegetation growth. Ineffective turbidimeters.

 

No records of any calibration on turbidimeters. No historical data on turbidity data. The DEQ stated Veolia cannot reasonably confirm that it has been meeting the primary drinking water standard for turbidity since October, 2018. Veolia staff were unable to confirm what the individual alarms signified or meant.

 

Veolia hadn't reported violations related to adequate residual chlorination in the distributions system, but DEQ testing showed little to no chlorine in the system to many homes.

 

Under 2.1 alone the city could and should terminate this contract immediately!

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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