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Council Responds To EPD Notice of Violations

Bill Hawthorne and Beth Stevenson of the Coastal District Environmental Protection Division (EPD) met Monday morning with the Hazlehurst City Council to discuss a Notice of Violation letter sent by the EPD to the city concerning a recent sanitary survey inspection. They also reviewed a response letter from the city detailing a correction plan.
The violations pointed out by the EPD were:
1. Two of the water treatment plants do not have automatic switch-over devices for the gas chlorine tanks and all three plants do not have properly operating chlorine tank weight scales to assure continuous disinfection is provided. The EPD considered the violations “Significant Deficiencies.”
2. The city does not appear to have proper safety equipment and trained personnel to handle chlorine gas leaks.
3. The concrete pad at the Odum Street well must be cleaned of slime and vegetation.
4. The city should install emergency generators at wells 3 and 4.
5. A written flushing program for the water system should be developed.
6. The city has only one operator with appropriate certification to operate the water and wastewater systems. EPD recommend the city obtain the services of a qualified Class III water operator and a Class II wastewater operator.
In a meeting last week, Ward 3 Council member Eric Griffin pointed out that the “violations have been the same as the last three visits (from EPD).”
In the city’s response letter, Orson P. (O.P.) Hall, the city’s only appropriately certified operator, said the switch over system had been ordered which included the necessary scales and parts to complete the chlorine system at the Baxley Highway well. And a second scale was ordered for the Gill Street well.
New safety equipment had been ordered to address No. 2.
The pad at the Odum Street well was cleaned and soaked with bleach, plus additional steps were being taken to prevent further problems.
The city is actively seeking appropriate back-up generators for the wells.
The City Fire Department flushes the water system twice a year.
And a newly certified wastewater analyst is set up to take State Board next month and further certification is underway.
While Hawthorne and Stephenson were encouraged by the city’s response to the latest Notice of Violation, Mayor Bayne Stone expressed his concern that one of the employees being certified was Somer Daniels. Stone said he didn’t think a woman could handle moving heavy equipment as required in the job.
Hawthorne pointed out that several women hold such positions in the Coastal District and all do their jobs as well as if not better than women.
But Stone still had concerns.
Councilman Griffin said there is on hand equipment that assists with movements of tanks and equipment so the strength of the employee is not a problem.
When Stone persisted, Councilman John Ramay, a retired agriculture teacher, said that when he was teaching, all students — both male and female — were required to do the same difficult tasks that required strength and the sex of the student was not an issue.

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