Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Victory for the Blackstone: Court backs EPA, Worcester must stop dumping sewage into river

Score one for the Blackstone River, and all the people who care about it.
 The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay of enforcement of an EPA order that will force upgrades at the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement district sewage treatment plant, according to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The problem is a simple one. The discharge from the plant in Millbury has been violating federal clean water standards for years. While other communities have gradually been coming into compliance, Worcester officials have opposed making the improvements, and fighting the EPA every step of the way.
They won a temporary victory in April 2011, when they were able to secure a stay of enforcement, claiming that the EPA’s scientific data was flawed. After a year of review, the three-judge panel has sided with the EPA.
“The district’s responsibility for serious pollution problems in the important waterways in two states is clear, and its challenge to the 2008 permit has no merit,” reads the decision. They also said the District must begin work on complying immediately.
Despite the body of scientific evidence, and the considered opinion of thee federal judges, City Manager Michael V. O’Brien insists he knows better.
“We stand firm that the EPA’s science and projected Blackstone River models are hopelessly flawed. We have proven this with our unbiased science.”
Unbiased? O’Brien contends it will cost “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars” to make the improvements, though the actual cost is pegged at $200 million.
“Ratepayers will pay double and triple what they pay now,” he said. “The question is to what end?”
Obviously not someone who cares about the river.

Note: I'm coming back to this blog after a long absence. Partly it's been a matter of a busy schedule, partly a matter of thinking about the focus of this blog. My goal here will be to call attention to environmental issues I consider important whether global or local.

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