Too much fluoride in Franklin’s municipal water system last year has resulted in the city of Franklin and its General Authority having to pay a $25,000 civil penalty while Franklin’s operator-in-charge of the drinking water system will pay a $2,500 civil penalty and surrender his state certification.
The penalties are part of a settlement agreement announced Tuesday between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the city of Franklin and the city’s General Authority. The settlement is for violations of the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act from an overfeed of fluoride into the Franklin water system on Feb. 7, 2018.
Because of the fluoride overfeed, Franklin had to take multiple emergency actions for nearly two weeks in February 2018, according to DEP.
Those actions included extensive flushing of the water system and providing alternate sources of water to customers. Since the overfeed, the water system has been providing water to customers without incident, DEP said.
“Under Pennsylvania law, public water suppliers are required to report to DEP within an hour of discovering an issue that could adversely impact the drinking water which, upon our investigation, the city and General Authority failed to do,” James Miller, regional director of DEP’s Northwest District office in Meadville, said Tuesday.
“This settlement reflects the city’s and General Authority’s cooperation with DEP’s investigation and DEP’s commitment to ensuring that customers of water supplies are protected and that violations are addressed promptly,” Miller said about Franklin.
The settlement agreement requires Franklin and the General Authority to update operational procedures, provide public notice of certain conditions, submit records and obtain permits for equipment changes at their water plants.
The agreement has a $25,000 civil penalty for violations associated with the 2018 fluoride overfeed and irregularities in both Franklin and the General Authority’s reporting of disinfection treatment levels.
The agreement said neither the city of Franklin, the General Authority nor Fred Leyda, the designated operator-in-charge of the drinking water system, reported the fluoride overfeed to DEP on Feb. 7, 2018, after a pump malfunction was discovered that day.
That malfunction caused a “large volume of hydrofluorosilicic acid to empty into the water supply,” the agreement said.
Additionally, Leyda signed a consent order and agreement with the DEP in which he surrendered his operator’s certification and paid a $2,500 civil penalty for the violations. Leyda’s operator certification was revoked, effective April 1, according to the consent agreement.
Under the consent order and agreement, Leyda can never seek reinstatement of his certification or apply for a new water operator certificate. Leyda also may never operate or supervise the operation of a water system — either in whole or part — in Pennsylvania.