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Elgin fined $13,000 by DEQ
DEQ fines city for not testing total residual chlorine in wastewater
The Department of Environmental Quality has fined the City of Elgin $13,000 for wastewater violations.
The DEQ requires the city to test for residual chlorine in its wastewater effluent as part of its wastewater permit, but the city instead tested for free chlorine more than 500 times between January 2011 and May 2013, according to the DEQ.
Free chlorine makes up part of the total residual chlorine but does test for all the chlorine that is present in the wastewater, said environmental law specialist Jeff Bachman.
“Essentially they would have been underreporting the amount of chlorine in their water,” he said.
According to a DEQ press release, chlorine is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life and Elgin failed to determine chlorine concentrations of effluent that was released into the Grande Ronde River.
Bachman said the release of chlorine would not typically have an adverse effect on humans. The amount of chlorine in drinking water could be enough to kill a fish, he said.
City Administrator Terrie Richards said the city has appealed the penalty, but that she has not received an update on the situation.
Bachman said the next step in the process is to schedule a meeting with city officials to give them an opportunity to explain why they shouldn’t be penalized and to ask questions.