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July 8, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP Reaches Settlement Agreement with Middlesex County Utilities Authority

MCUA Will Construct New $32 Million Sewage Line to Prevent Future Spills

(04/80) TRENTON -- Settling violations of the Water Pollution Control Act, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that the Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) will pay the state $100,000 and install an additional force main sewage pipe to prevent future sewage spills from its wastewater system. The settlement agreement addresses a March 2, 2003 sewage line break near MCUA's Sayreville facility that caused the extended closure of over 26,000 acres of shellfish beds in the Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, the Navesink River and the Shrewsbury River.

"This agreement underscores the importance of strong enforcement to protect public health as well as the livelihood of New Jersey's commercial fisherman," said Commissioner Campbell. "The Middlesex County Utility Authority is correcting its system's weaknesses."

The March 2003 sewage spill was caused by the rupture of the 102-inch force main near MCUA's Sayreville wastewater treatment plant. Overflowing wastewater material flooded a nearby neighborhood and entered a tributary to the Raritan River. In order to repair the 102-inch force main, MCUA diverted sewage flow to a parallel, unused 72-inch main. Excess sewage material from the 72-inch parallel main was discharged to the Washington Canal and the Raritan River. MCUA's water discharge permit did not authorize the discharge of pollutants to the areas affected by the spill.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, MCUA will install a second, 60-inch force main to facilitate inspection and repair of an existing 60-inch main. MCUA will begin constructing the main, which will cost an estimated $32 million, by March 1, 2006. The project will be completed by March 1, 2008.

The settlement also stipulates that MCUA must frequently monitor and inspect existing sewer mains and identify emergency power sources. In addition, MCUA will implement an outreach and education program to communicate with consumers and members of the wastewater management field regarding the 2003 spill and measures taken to prevent future spills.

MCUA repaired the 102-inch force main on March 12, 2003, and installed a state-of-the-art acoustic monitoring system. All shellfish beds affected by the spill were reopened by April 17, 2003. MCUA is currently in compliance with its DEP permit requirements.



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