A notice of violation has been issued to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County by the N.C. Division of Water Quality, pertaining to the April 30 spill of raw sewerage into the French Broad River. The overflow of almost 6 million gallons was the result of a pump accident during a construction operation at the plant, resulting in the shutdown of its main pumps.
“This was just an unfortunate accident,” commented Chuck Cranford, regional office supervisor for Surface Water Protection. MSD’s “record is really exemplary.”
The violation notice was sent by Cranford’s office yesterday, and MSD has 10 days to respond. “This is standard procedure,” Cranford said. “They’ll send a response with some details, and at that time we’ll really research it,” he said, including MSD’s compliance history. But in the end, he added, “They’re going to get fined.”
MSD self-reported the spill with a phone call before it actually started, since the shutdown situation meant the violation was imminent but the sewerage backup had not yet started to overflow into the river. Cranford said one of his staff members did visit during the event and looked at some of the overflowing manholes, but there “really was no need for us; they didn’t need us standing around.”
MSD subsequently sent the requisite written report, and will now follow up the NOV with a much lengthier report, according to General Manager Tom Hartye. “Then they’ll determine fines involved and that sort of thing. It’s a much longer process and we don’t control that.”
by Nelda Holder, contributing editor