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U.S. EPA, Sacramento Sanitation District Reach Settlement

Courtesy of the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District

Courtesy of the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is fining a Sacramento area sanitation district for safety violations. 

The violations have to do with chemicals at the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Elk Grove. Employees, who use chlorine to disinfect the water, didn't immediately tell the National Response Center about three separate releases of chlorine in 2013 and 2014.

"We were not as responsive as we should've been. We are required to notify the various agencies as soon as we're aware of this release," said Ruben Robles, director of operations for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, which operates the water treatment plant.

"These violations did not result in any safety issues to the public," he said. "But we are making some improvements, for example we have spent well over $20 million to change out some of the chemicals that we had violations for."

He says that includes replacing chlorine gas and SO2 gas — used for the disinfection process — with the liquid form of those chemicals.

The district will pay a civil penalty of more than $37,000.

"The total fine that we would've had to pay the EPA was about $138,000," Robles said. "We made a recommendation to the EPA that rather than paying the full amount, were they open to keeping some of that money local, and they agreed."

That includes supplying the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District with a handheld device for identifying chemicals. The district will also provide the County of Sacramento with an incident response vehicle.

Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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