WVDEP fines City of Salem after violations involving wastewater treatment plant

SALEM, W.Va. — The State Department of Environmental Protection is ordering the City of Salem to comply with the requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit after violations of the West Virginia Water Pollution Act involving its wastewater treatment plant.

Grit observed outside of the Salem Wastewater Treatment Plant during one of the WVDEP's inspections
Grit observed outside of the Salem Wastewater Treatment Plant during one of the WVDEP’s inspections

On August 28,2006, a consent decree was issued to Salem by the Circuit Court of Harrison County in response to action brought by the WVDEP ordering the city to develop and execute a remediation plan at its facility that discharges into Salem Fork of Ten Mile Creek of the West Fork of the Monongahela River to ensure no further violations would occur.

(Read the order from 2006 here)

Afterward, on August 22, 2007, June 10, 2010, March 18,2014, inspections conducted by WVDEP personnel revealed the city failed to comply with multiple provisions of the consent order to varying degrees.

The violations included:

– Causing “conditions not allowable in waters of the State by creating sludge banks in Salem Fork of Ten Mile Creek” in 2007.

-Failure to maintain the facility. Specifically, the “ultrasonic flow meter was out of service, and the bar screens for Sanitary Sewer Overflow Nos. 001 and 002 were not maintained.”

-Discharging from a point other than one permitted. During a September 12, 2014 review of SSO records from August 2012 through July 2014, 36 such discharges were found.

-On numerous occasions, failing to provide proper reports and documentation of noncompliance.

(Read the findings of the consent order here)

In the agreement, Scott Mandirola, Division of Water and Waste Management Director for the WVDEP, has ordered Salem to “take all measures to initiate compliance with all terms and conditions” of its permits and the consent decree, submit for approval a proposed plan of “corrective action” with a schedule of executing that plan and pay a civil administrative penalty of $82,310 within 30 days of the effective date of the order.

The director “reserves the right to take further action if compliance with the terms and conditions of this Order does not adequately address the violations” and the lack of sufficient funding is not an acceptable cause for delay.

The order was signed by Mayor Robert Samples on April 14 and is open for public comment until May 29.