Originally created 02/21/99

Sewage program still troubled



Despite efforts to improve Augusta's industrial pretreatment sewage program, state regulators still have lingering questions about the program's effectiveness.

Additional pretreatment problems were noted as recently as Dec. 8-11, when Georgia Environmental Protection Division inspectors audited Augusta's wastewater program. According to the inspection report:

-- Several major industrial users, including Augusta Chemical, Coca-Cola, Amoco and Castleberry's Foods, have not been issued updated permits to use the sewage system.

-- Several permits that were updated contain incomplete information, including the omission of required analytical detection limits.

-- The city did not enforce documented violations by Blackman-Uhler that included excessive releases of methyl chloride into the sewer system.

-- Coca-Cola was sampling its sewage only once a month, but its city-issued permit requires sampling twice a month.

-- Releases of excessive levels of benzene were documented from Alternate Energy Resources, but the city took no action against them until after the state's audit report was released.

-- NutraSweet's sewage has high levels of sulfides, which can erode sewer lines; and high levels of propylene glycol, which increase organic matter that must be treated at the sewage plant. Yet the city's permit for that industry sets no limits on the discharge of either substance.

In a summary of state inspectors' findings, the city was encouraged to work harder to keep industries compliant with sewage treatment laws.

The Messerly Wastewater Plant "is regularly impacted from high strength waste from industrial contributors to the sewer system," inspectors wrote.