Pennsylvania Sewer Authority Penalized for Safety Violations

The Sewer Authority of the City of Scranton will pay a $12,619 penalty and complete a $30,000 tree planting project under a settlement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over risk management violations at its treatment facility at Cedar Avenue and Breck Street in Scranton, Pa.

The alleged violations, identified in an April 2010 EPA inspection, focused on the sewer authority’s failure to comply with a risk management plan designed to reduce the risk of an accidental release of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Some of the specific violations included failure to properly train employees in operating procedures, failure to test and inspect equipment, and failure to conduct a three-year compliance audit.

Under the Clean Air Act, facilities that produce, handle, process, distribute or store certain chemicals are required to develop, implement and submit a risk management plan to EPA. Alleged violations included the authority’s failure to update safety procedures, train employees, perform inspections or maintain proper identification.

Under the settlement, the authority will pay a cash civil penalty of $12,619, and will implement a supplemental environmental project costing $30,000 that involves purchasing and planting 100 trees in urban neighborhoods on the south side of Scranton. The tree project is intended to improve air quality in Scranton by absorbing air pollutants, which are triggers for asthma, and thereby creating health benefits for asthma sufferers.