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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Town challenges DEEP notice on recycling issues

As published in the Record Journal Wednesday July 10, 2013

By Andrew Ragali       
Record-Journal staff   
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD — The town is either asking for clarification or disagreeing with seven of nine violations cited by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The violations, subject of a notice issued June 13, pertain to operations at the municipal recycling center on John Street and a Public Works dumping and storage facility on North Turnpike Road.

Public Works Director Henry McCully wrote June 28 to Laurene Buckowski, a DEEP sanitary engineer, questioning many of the violations cited. While McCully wrote that the town has fully complied with DEEP standards at 91 N. Turnpike Road, he questions or asks for clarifications on seven of the eight violations cited regarding the town’s recycling center.

“In addition to working with you to resolve these issues,” McCully wrote, “it may be advisable to review certain requirements with our contractor at the recycling center.”
Fabio Enterprises, of Wallingford, is under contract with the town to operate the recycling center.

The nine violations cited were the result of a May 15 DEEP inspection of both facilities. The state found the town violated state environmental laws and regulations by improperly disposing of residential waste oil at the 157 John St. facility, while Public Works was cited for illegal dumping on the 91 N. Turnpike Road property.

A letter of compliance must be submitted within 30 days of a notice of violation, according to the DEEP. If the town does not comply, civil penalties of up to $25,000 may be assessed for each day the town is knowingly in violation of DEEP standards.

According to the timeframe of the initial notice of violation, the town must officially respond with a compliance letter by Friday. On Tuesday, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said, “I believe that we will be able to respond within that timeframe.”

In his letter, McCully said he was concerned about the timeframe. He said that the mayor did not receive the initial notice in full until June 21, eight days after it was issued. Mc-Cully wrote that “if it becomes necessary, we may need additional time.” Dickinson said he is overseeing the situation with DEEP, but at this point the law department and McCully are the main parties involved.

Corporation Counsel Janis Small said Tuesday that she asked McCully to respond to DEEP with some questions, but that his letter was not the town’s final compliance letter.

“We did have a few questions,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

McCully’s letter says the town has made the necessary changes at 91 N. Turnpike Road. DEEP had said the town did not have proper permits to store catch-basin cleanings and oily wastewater in the area.

McCully said that from now on, street sweeping waste will be stored in the public works salt shed before being taken to a landfill in Manchester. The oily release at the site, which prompted the DEEP investigation, is being removed, he said, and future catch-basin cleanings at the department’s truck wash station will be done by a contractor. Catch-basin cleaning has been temporarily suspended, he added.

Notice of another violation, related to oil disposal at the recycling center, was issued because the town does not have a “used oil” sign on storage tanks. McCully responded that the tanks are labeled with the words “waste oil,” as well as another sign that reads “used crankcase oil only, do not contaminate this waste oil.”

“It is our belief that the terms ‘waste oil’ and ‘used oil’ have historically been used interchangeably,” McCully said. He asked for further comment.

In another violation involving oil disposal, DEEP said the facility failed to provide an adequate containment area for the 275-gallon used-oil tank.

“The town does not believe there is a violation,” McCully said.

“The secondary containment berm has a capacity of 320 gallons while the tank has a capacity of 275 gallons.”
DEEP said the town failed to ensure that no person other than an employee of the facility, or someone under the supervision of an employee, pours oil into the used-oil tank.

McCully responded that the town contracts with Fabio Enterprises, and that according to bid documents, the contractor is responsible for the collection of waste oil.

McCully said Fabio Enterprises has indicated that residents disposing of oil are supervised.

McCully asked for additional information about what is required.

Responding to a violation cited because a temporary storage area for waste-oil containers isn’t available, McCully said that because the waste-oil tank is supervised, “a temporary storage area for the collection of containers of used oil is not required.”

“Is this correct?” he asked.

A DEEP inspector visiting the recycling center noted about 70 scrap metal appliances, and only 60 are allowed. McCully said the town’s agreement with Fabio Enterprises makes the state’s regulations clear, and the contractor has been notified of the violation.

While Fabio Enterprises runs the facility, “the town is ultimately responsible,” said Robert Isner, program manager of DEEP’s waste management program. “The town is the permit holder with the department,” he said.

McCully said the town did not understand another cited violation regarding managing used oil, and requested clarification. The town was cited for failing to ensure used oil is transported by those with proper credentials. It’s unclear if violation makes sense, McCully said, because his department reuses the waste oil. DEEP also said the town lacks the proper permits for the waste oil site, but McCully said he believes the town’s permit includes the facility.

McCully said he would meet with Buckowski this week for further discussion and clarification.

“We are analyzing the response to the notice of violation provided by the town of Wallingford,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said Tuesday. “We plan on discussing with them issues they raised in their letter and also following up with another inspection of the facility. Our goal is to achieve compliance with conditions of the town’s permit and sound environmental practices and we will continue working with the town to achieve that.”