Oil City Fined $10K by DEP for Unpermitted Discharges into Cooper and Siverly Runs

| September 14, 2018

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – The Oil City Council agreed to a consent order and agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at its Thursday meeting.

The consent order, in which the City is fined $10,000.00 and possibly more depending on the outcome of future testing, comes on the heels of the City being found to allow unpermitted discharges into Cooper Run and Siverly Run as late as April 20, 2017.

This has been an ongoing issue for the City dating back to at least Jan. 8, 1996, when the City and the DEP entered into a consent order and agreement to resolve violations of the Clean Streams Law related to Oil City’s operation of its wastewater plant. Modifications of the Jan. 8, 1996, agreement were entered into June 30, 1997, Sept. 19, 2001, and Jan. 16, 2004.

In the 1996 agreement, the City was to implement “nine minimum controls” and to submit to the DEP and implement a “long-term control plan” to minimize or eliminate the combined sewage overflows discharge.

On Jan. 4, 2006, the DEP approved Oil City’s long-term control plan, and on March 31, 2014, Oil City submitted to the DEP the Phase 3 Monitoring Report which documented that the City was achieving 85 percent capture of wet weather flows in the combined sewage system.

Prior to the 2014 report, the City was found to be in violation for ongoing discharge of sewage entering Cooper Run through a storm sewer pipe located along Cooper Avenue July 23, 2010, and intermittent discharges of sewage into Siverly Run from a pipe originating from a manhole along Park Road Sept. 4, 2012.

Both of those discharge violations were found to be continuing during the April 20, 2017, inspection leading the DEP to fine the city the $10,000.000 as well as set forth a new consent order and agreement that includes corrective actions that need to be taken by the City and further potential monetary fines if it continues to violate the order. Those fines could include $150.00 per month for any and all violations of the effluent limitations set forth by the NPDES permit, $250.00 per occurrence for missing any deadlines set forth in the agreement, $350.00 per calendar quarter for any and all unpermitted discharges to Cooper Run and/or Siverly Run, $3,500.00 for the first month plus $5,000.00 per month thereafter for any unpermitted discharges to Cooper Run and/or Siverly Run that occur after Dec. 31, 2023, and $250 for each occurrence when Oil City fails to achieve at least 85 percent capture of wet weather flows.

City Manager Mark Schroyer said that after negotiations with the DEP and City solicitor Robert Varsek this was the best deal the City could make and that it was obvious that the DEP is using punitive punishments for violation enforcement.

Councilman Ron Gustafson said he believes the City is making progress on the violations and should continue to do so.

THREE-YEAR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN APPROVED

The Council also approved a three-year Community Development Plan, which is needed when applying for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

The major objectives of the plan are (1) housing (2) public and community facilities improvements (3) public safety and (4) economic development.

In the short-term plan, the city plan calls for the demolitions of deteriorated structures and the improvement of streets/sidewalks and ADA Cubs and the renovation of existing recreational facilities to include ADA features as well as a fire department truck.

The long-term (two to three years) plan includes the above plus improvement of rental properties, home and exterior rehabilitation programs, water, sewer and stormwater system improvements, health and safety projects and economic development including commercial revitalization projects, adaptive reuse of underutilized and abandoned commercial and industrial sites and cooperation with Venango County to attract developers to the area.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business the council:

  • Approved a service agreement with Venango County Mental Health and Developmental Services to provide emergency transport of individuals originating within Oil City limits to UPMC Northwest Medical Center in Seneca from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2018.
  • Allocated the 2019 General Municipal Pensions to include $235,162.00 for the Employee Pension Plan, which is nearly double of what it was in 2018 because of some mitigating factors including long-time employees not being counted in the system once they reached retirement age even though they were still working and an estimated 7.5 percent return turning into only a 7.25 percent return, $96,611 for the Police Pension Plan and $214,959.00 for the Fire Pension Plan, which was significantly down from 2018. Because of the reduction in the Fire Pension plan, the total pension plan contribution was only up around $24,000.00 or $25,000.00 this year, and Schroyer remarked that the Pension fund is in very good shape at 95 percent funded.

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