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Carthage Seeks Chlorine Spill Settlement
February 11, 2009 - The Carthage Town Council was updated by legal counsel during their Feb. 4 regular monthly meeting about ongoing efforts to reach a settlement regarding a potential fine for a chlorine spill that happened last summer.
Attorney Chuck Todd said he had been in contact with attorneys representing both the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Dave O’Mara Contractor, Inc., the contractor directly responsible for the chlorine spill that occurred last July. He told the council he did not feel comfortable saying too much about the negotiations during their public meeting.
“I feel like there is a good dialogue in place,” Todd said of his communications with the other attorneys. He said his is working on a way to resolve the issue in the most favorable way for the town.
IDEM issued a notice of violation on Dec. 24 to both the town and O’Mara regarding the July 16 chlorine spill. In a proposed agreed order that accompanied the notice, IDEM offered to resolve the matter by holding the town and O’Mara jointly and severally responsible for a civil penalty in the amount of $11,250, plus $113.24 “for the value of the damage to natural resources.”
Workers for O’Mara, one of three contractors hired to work on the town’s water improvement project, had been using chlorine to disinfect new water lines they were installing in town last summer. According to IDEM, chlorinated water was purged from the disinfected lines into two storm drains that flow into a local creek that feeds into the Big Blue River, with the contamination causing a small fish kill.
According to IDEM’s notice, the spill resulted in at least four violations of state environmental management and water pollution laws. The town and O’Mara were given 60 days from the date of IDEM’s notice to accept the proposed agreed order, or face possible penalties of up to $25,000 a day for each violation.
The council also received a brief update at last week’s meeting from Jon Query, an engineer with Hannum, Wagle & Cline, on the town’s upcoming wastewater improvement project. He said funding for the project was not yet finalized because the federal budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, which will be providing the town with grant money, has not been adopted yet.
In a related matter, Query also told the council that Rural Development wants to use new contract forms. The council voted to give Council President Rick Bush permission to sign the reworked on behalf of the town, provided they cover the same services at the same cost or less.
The council also voted last week to approve the purchase of generator for use as a backup for the town’s water wells in the event of a power outage. The generator, which is being purchased from Buckeye Power Sales, is expected to cost $30,088 and comes with a trailer.
The council introduced and adopted a new ordinance setting forth purchasing procedures for the town. For purchases under $50,000, the town will not be required to solicit bids or quotes; for those between $50,000 and $150,000, at least three quotes will need to be obtained; and for those over $150,000, the town will need to solicit formal bids.
The council also passed an ordinance dealing with mileage reimbursement for town employees. Under terms of the new ordinance, the rate of reimbursement will be the same as that followed by the state.
Building Inspector Bob Bullock updated the council on problem properties in town. He said on structure that was a concern was recently razed, and asked the council’s opinion about a home on Fifth Street that had been the subject of earlier action.
With respect to the Fifth Street property, owned by Randy Chandler, Bullock said the roof was caving in and he believed it was dangerous. “I think it is should be condemned and no one goes in it. … It’s an unsafe structure.”
The council had previously told Chandler if he boarded up this house, they would give him until spring to address the larger issues. At last week’s meeting, the council told Bullock to prepare paperwork directing Chandler to attend the council’s April meeting to discuss the property.
Acting on a suggestion from council member Bill Armstrong, the council agreed to name three alleys in town after local deceased veterans. Armstrong proposed naming the alleys after Joe Porter, Omer Heim and Ralph “Bud” Henderson, father of Council Vice President Wanda Henderson.
Town Marshal Dan Murphy was given permission to attend a drug training seminar later this month at a cost to the town of $200. During a special meeting a week earlier, the council agreed to pay for Council President Rick Bush to attend the same seminar.
Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan was also given permission to attend clerk-treasurer training in Muncie, and three members of the council, Bush, Henderson and Doris Wyatt, indicated they planned to attend a roundtable on Feb. 10 sponsored by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.
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