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Taunton, Mass. Municipal Lighting Plant Settles Clean Water Violations


The Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP) will pay a $15,000 fine and undertake an extensive Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to settle Clean Water Act (CWA) violations.

An EPA inspection of the facility in March 2006 found that the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP) violated several provisions of its permits under the Clean Water Act (known as a “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” (NPDES) permit).

EPA’s complaint alleges that TMLP failed to properly conduct monthly monitoring between June 2004 and February 2006 for oil and grease and failed to operate and maintain adequate laboratory controls and appropriate quality assurance procedures as required by its NPDES permit. The individual NPDES permit violations related to oil and grease monitoring and inadequate laboratory practices are significant because failure to follow approved monitoring procedures calls into question the accuracy of pollution monitoring results.

TMLP also failed to maintain the pH in wastewater discharges to the Taunton River within acceptable limits. The pH of water is a scientific measurement that describes how acidic or alkaline (basic) the water is. The pH violations are significant because discharges with a low pH can cause harm to the habitat on the banks of water bodies.

A municipal electric utility that produces and distributes electricity to approximately 33,000 customers, TMLP’s facility includes the main power generation building, oil storage tanks, a switchyard, a cooling tower, a chemical storage building, a water intake house, fuel oil receiving houses, and a guardhouse. The area surrounding the facility is rural, consisting of wetlands, wooded areas and the Taunton River.

Finally, EPA’s inspection revealed violations of TMLP’s storm water permit. In addition to having an individual NPDES permit, TMLP is required to obtain coverage under EPA’s general storm water permit known as the Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities (MSGP). TMLP failed to conduct quarterly monitoring for Total Recoverable Iron in violation of the MSGP. The MSGP violations are significant because the federal stormwater program is important to ensuring that stormwater runoff does not contribute to the impairment of water quality.

The SEP TMLP will perform involves providing $50,000 to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth to create and implement portions of a Lake Management Plan for Lake Sabbatia, located in Taunton, Massachusetts. Lake Sabbatia is the largest lake in the city of Taunton and the most popularly used. The Lake is located within the boundary of a state designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). ACEC’s are places in Massachusetts that receive special recognition because of the quality, uniqueness and significance of their natural and cultural resources.

A principle goal of the SEP will be to support the restoration of the water quality of the Lake Sabbatia system so that the full system meets its designated water quality standards and once met that the water quality will remain at its designated levels. The Lake Management Plan will include an inventory of natural resources; an inventory of structures on the Lake including dams, docks, and boat ramps; an evaluation of the impacts of existing structures and management practices on Lake resources; studies and assessments related to water quality; and recommendations for protecting the Lake’s natural resources.


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