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Ailing Pumping Station Triggered CONN-OSHA Fines In Derby

by Eugene Driscoll | Mar 4, 2013 8:24 pm

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Posted to: Derby

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The Derby Water Pollution Control Authority picked up about $4,000 in fines in 2011 for health and safety violations.

The violations were triggered by a complaint in July 2011 to the the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA).

The WPCA cooperated with the labor department, made the required health and safety changes, and invited a CONN-OSHA representative to the city to make sure they’re still in compliance.

Those efforts got the total fine reduced to $2,646.

The case file was closed in January 2012, according to CONN-OSHA.

The most serious violations stemmed from the antiquated pumping station on Roosevelt Drive. That same pumping station is also under state watch for having dumped 300,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Housatonic River during the first six months of 2012.

The WPCA, by the way, wants to replace the Roosevelt Drive pumping station. Its replacement is included on a list of repairs and upgrades the WPCA wants to undertake. They’ve proposed a referendum in which they’ll ask Derby voters permission to borrow between $20 million and $35 million to fund the work.

The date for that referendum has yet to be scheduled and the questions for the referendum have yet to be reviewed by the Derby Board of Aldermen.

The OSHA violations were mentioned during a Feb. 25 public information session on the WPCA’s multi-million dollar repair list.

Minutes also show the WPCA also discussed the matter during meetings on Sept. 7 2011, Sept. 28, 2011 and Dec. 2 , 2011.

The Valley Indy interviewed CONN-OSHA Director Kenneth Tucker March 1 about the citations his agency issued.

The WPCA’s water pollution control facility at the end of Caroline Street was cited for having a broken railing and for lacking “lockout” systems to protect workers from electrical discharges.

The WPCA was fined $810, but that was later reduced to $410.

The WPCA was also cited for not having enough documentation showing fire extinguishers and cranes were inspected.

However, the most serious citations centered around the Roosevelt Drive pumping station, which was last upgraded in 1972.

In order to protect employees who have to enter the underground systems at the Roosevelt Drive pumping station, CONN-OSHA forced the WPCA to institute an internal “permit” system.

The permit system and protocol has to be followed to the letter anytime someone has to go into the pumping station, Tucker said.

“They can’t enter the space without going to the boss and saying ‘I need to pull a permit on this.’ That is so the boss knows what is going on. On the permit there’s a spot for you to write down measurements (such as) ‘This is the oxygen level. This is the combustible level.’ You want to make sure it’s OK to climb down in there,” Tucker said. “They had a program in place, but we wanted it beefed up.”

In addition, Lindsay King, the WPCA superintendent, said Feb. 25 that the Derby Fire Department is also notified each time a worker enters the Roosevelt Drive pumping station in the event a “confined space rescue” is required.

CONN-OSHA levied a fine of $3,600 on the WPCA for the Roosevelt Drive health concerns. It was later reduced to $2,160.

“They came in good faith saying they wanted to fix the items,” Tucker said.

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