Violations at water plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, garner penalties from EPA

The city has agreed to an administrative settlement of alleged violations of federal Risk Management Program regulations.

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LENEXA, KS, June 6, 2016 -- The City of Fort Dodge, Iowa, has agreed to an administrative settlement of alleged violations of federal Risk Management Program regulations at the John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant. Through the settlement, the city will pay a $20,000 penalty to the United States, and through a supplemental environmental project it will spend at least $200,000 to build a new road to provide emergency vehicles better access to the facility.

The settlement agreement, filed May 10 by EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, Kan., follows a related compliance agreement between EPA and Fort Dodge filed in January 2015 that addressed the correction of Risk Management Program issues at the facility.

The 2015 compliance agreement requires the city to develop a Risk Management Program for the John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant, located at 600 Phinney Park Drive in Fort Dodge. Risk Management Programs and plans are required under the Clean Air Act for certain facilities that use any of dozens of specific regulated chemicals in a process.

Specifically, facilities that hold more than 2,500 pounds of chlorine gas in a process are required to comply with the Risk Management Program regulations. The John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant routinely stores and uses three to four times that amount of chlorine gas for its use in water treatment. If released, chlorine gas can be severely corrosive to the eyes, skin and lungs. Exposure to high concentrations of chlorine gas can be fatal.

In addition to preventing accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances, the water treatment plant’s Risk Management Plan is available to help local fire, police and emergency response personnel prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies at the facility. Making these plans available to the public also fosters communication and awareness to improve accident prevention and emergency response practices at the local level.

For a supplemental environmental project, Fort Dodge will construct a new road to allow improved access for emergency vehicles to reach the facility. The asphalt road will be built outside of the area’s 100-year flood plain and will cost at least $200,000.

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