City likely to be released from EPA consent decree

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it will release the city from a 2014 consent decree related to hydrogen sulfide in the city’s sewer system.

The decree also involved Malteurop North America Inc. and the parties are waiting on the malt plant’s position on the matter.

Sara Sexe, city attorney, said a joint motion has been prepared, which would release the city from the consent decree if a federal district court judge approves the motion.

The motion from the EPA indicates that the city complied with all of the requirements, Sexe said.

The consent decree has required higher levels of regulatory monitoring and reporting and also required that the city make improvements to its wastewater treatment system.

The City Commission approved the terms of the decree in February 2014 and under those terms, Malteurop paid a $525,000 penalty for discharges from its malting plant that the EPA said caused high levels of H2S to form in the city sewer system. The company would also reimburse the city $21,396 for corrosion caused by the gas.

The city was required to pay a $120,000 civil penalty and complete $125,000 worth of projects.

The incident stemmed from the city observing elevated levels of H2S at a certain area of the sewer system. They tried a number of remedies to reduce the gas levels, but when those didn’t work, they asked the EPA for help, resulting in the fines and the consent decree.