ERM Agrees to Pay Penalty to Penn. for Impacting Drinking Water

Environmental Resources Management Inc. (ERM) of Exton will pay the commonwealth of Pennsylvania $35,000 in civil penalties for its role in a November 2006 drinking water incident that affected water quality in parts of the Audubon Water Company distribution system in Montgomery County.

ERM, will pay $30,500 to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Fund and $4,500 to its Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund.

ERM is an environmental engineering firm that oversees a groundwater cleanup at the Commodore Semiconductor Superfund site, which is adjacent to two Audubon Water Company production wells at the Valley Forge Corporate Center in Lower Providence Township.

ERM applied to DEP on behalf of Audubon for permits to install new carbon filters on the wells, however, the company used citric acid to condition the filters, which caused elevated levels of copper in Audubon’s distribution system. The permits issued by DEP did not authorize the use of citric acid.

Drinking water that contains elevated levels of copper can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

"ERM has cooperated with the department in the investigation of the incident and the settlement of this matter," said the department’s Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola.

The $35,000 penalty was based upon DEP staff and laboratory costs incurred during the incident’s investigation. The department has assessed a separate penalty against Audubon for its failure to notify DEP and the public promptly during the incident.