Officials Demand Answers, Action on Schreiber Foods Plant Issues
Dale Heberlig, Sentinel Reporter, February 12, 2011
A recent sewer issue and ongoing water problems at Schreiber Foods' cheese-making plant pose threats for Shippensburg's water and sewer systems, spurring borough and water authority officials to demand answers and action.
Shippensburg Borough Manager Earl Parshall served Schreiber operators with certified mail demanding details of a plan to correct water issues by Feb. 25. Authority members have discussed shutting off water to Schreiber if the company doesn't respond.
In the meantime, penalties levied by the state Department of Environmental Protection are likely after a recent overflow at Shippensburg's wastewater treatment plant that borough officials say stem from misuse or malfunction at Schreiber's EPA-mandated pretreatment plant that treats dairy solids generated by the cheese plant's manufacturing process.
Plant manager Chuck Music says the spill resulted in "a great amount of solids" discharged into Middle Spring Creek, a violation that's likely to draw penalties from DEP.
These issues come on the heels of a recent leak at a water line in the Schreiber plant that was estimated at 150 gallons per minute and was left uncorrected for days.
Schreiber spokesman Rob Byrne acknowledged neither issue when contacted by telephone. He said only that if there was a problem, Schreiber would work with the borough to address the issue.
Schreiber officials have a secretive history locally, declining in the past to even divulge to the media how many employees work at the Shippensburg plant.
Water problems linked to air-actuated water valves at the Schreiber plant that open and close instantaneously were a topic of discussion at the water authority's Feb. 8 meeting.
The air-actuated valves are blamed for triggering drops in water pressure at various locations in the water system and for causing water hammer conditions that jar water mains, creating risk of water line breaks.
Parshall says the complaints about air-actuated valves should be no surprise to Schreiber officials. Parshall says he pointed out the concerns to construction supervisors at the ongoing Schreiber expansion in December before following up with a written memo to Schreiber's Wisconsin headquarters last week.
"They know about this, and they have known it," Parshall reports. "This isn't the first time they have had this problem. It's been in other plants they've built with these valves. It's a serious problem that needs addressed."
Hence his notification letter, sent without prior direction from the authority or borough council.
Authority Chairman W. Edward Goodhart says Parshall took appropriate action.
"I support the letter 100 percent," Goodhart says. "If he (Parshall) comes in and asks us to shut off water to Schreiber, I'm betting he'll get what he asks for."
Goodhart says the current issues are not the first conflict with Schreiber.
"They have fought us tooth and nail on every issue since they purchased the plant from Raskas," Goodhart says, citing past flaps over the size of water lines, fire flow and the sewer pretreatment requirement.
He says Schreiber's reluctance to communicate openly is a recurring issue.
"If they won't correct the problem, I'll have no reluctance to shut off their water. That will take three (authority) members to do, of course."
Water department chief Louis Larson says his discussions with employees at the local Schreiber plant indicate the air-actuated valves are also creating pressure problems at other locations within the plant.
He says air-actuated valves are pneumatic, using pressurized air. The close so rapidly that pressure reduction valves installed throughout the authority's system cannot keep up with the speed of the air-actuated valves.
Larson says recording devices at two of the authority's wells and at a booster station record the reductions in pressure caused by the Schreiber valves. He says customer complaints are becoming more frequent.
Larson suggests using electrically operated valves that can be speed-controlled is one alternative to address the issue.
Goodhart, Larson and Parshall agree that damage to the water system is inevitable if the Schreiber practice continues.
Music says plant employees were alerted to the solids spill from Schreiber when alarms at the treatment plant sounded Saturday.
"When our people got there it was all over the place and had spilled into the creek," Music says.
Music says Schreiber employees told him the spill was caused by an error in their automated program that regulates the pretreatment plant.
"In their own words, the program worked like it was supposed to, but it was programmed wrong," Music says.
Parshall is skeptical of that explanation.
"The automated control explanation is a great story, but what we see is that they overloaded their plant, yet again," Parshall says. "This is a recurring problem. Until I see proof otherwise, what happened is they discharged 500,000 gallons when they're permitted for 175,000 gallons."
Parshall says the borough received no notification of the incident from Schreiber.
"When we called them Saturday night, they said the incident was all over, but it wasn't," Parshall says. "We continued to have problems Monday."
Parshall says Schreiber is responsible for payment of any fines that result, along with the cost for a private contractor hired for clean-up at the borough sewer plant.
Music points out that those payments will probably come out of borough coffers first and be reimbursed by Schreiber later.
More distressing, Music says, is that "we get the black eye for the damage to the stream
Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association, Camp Hill Environmental Club, Lemoyne Environmental Club, East Pennsboro Environmental Advisory Committee, & Mechanicsburg Area Environmental Clubs will host their first Conodoguinet Creek cleanup of 2015 on Saturday, May 16, from 8:45 am to 12 noon, starting on Terrace Road, Hampden Twp.
Directions: Starting at the traffic light ( Wendy’s) on the Carlisle Pike, drive North on Skyport Road. After .8 miles, turn left into the Good Hope Middle School parking lot. From there we will transport volunteers to and from the Creek.
Other scheduled Conodoguinet Creek Cleanup Dates for 2015 include:
June 20, Saturday, 8:45- 12 noon
July 18, Saturday, 8:45- 12 noon
August 15, Saturday, 8:45- 12 noon
September 19, Saturday, 8:45- 12 noon
All cleanups are dependent on water conditions 24 hours prior to the cleanup, and the location depends on where the last cleanup left off, so it is good to contact the coordinator, Paul Garrett, at 514-3546 to confirm details.
May 16 is, unfortunately, the same morning for which the Middle Spring Watershed Association has planned our 2015 canoe & kayak outing on Yellow Breeches, so we won't be helping with that one, but some of us may go up to help out with cleanups later in the summer.
In partnership with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, our friends at Antietam Watershed Association in Waynesboro, PA, will be doing a tree planting this Saturday, May 9, 2015, starting at 9 am.
From Chambersburg south via Rt. 316 Approx. 7.3 miles turn left on Manheim Rd., then turn right on Rt. 997. Turn left onto Stottlemyer Rd to Gehr Rd. Look for signs!!
From Rt. 30 via Rt. 997. Turn left onto Stottlemyer Rd to Gehr Rd. Look for signs!!
For GPS, use this address: 9119 Stottlemyer Road, Waynesboro PA
Keep PA Beautiful just published a Spring 2015 newsletter. In it they report statistics on 2014 Cleanups, including those in Cumberland County (p.9). The newsletter may be accessed online at the following URL:
Had a sneak peak at the art submissions that were selected from those submitted for this show and I am very excited about them. I think every one of them has something to contribute by way of making people think about and appreciate water. I am really looking forward to the show, which runs from Saturday April 4 thru Friday April 24.
Here's a schedule of events associated with this show:
4 April (Saturday), Opening Reception 6-8pm. Come meet the artists.
4 April - 11 April Rain Barrel Auction. Rain Barrels will be at the SHAPE gallery and the auction will be via eBay. After 4 April see http://www.ebay.com/sch/us_msw1/m.html for a list of rain barrel auctions.
9 April (Thursday) Stream Ecology Talk & Discussion (Theo Light), 7pm, at SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King St. FREE
15, 22, 29 April (Weds) Plein Aire Painting Class (Mary Hickman) on the banks of Middle Spring Stream. $$ for pricing see SHAPE events brochure.
16 April (Thursday) Local Hydrology Talk & Discussion (Todd Hurd), 7pm at SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King St. FREE.
18 April (Saturday) Green is NOT Just a Color Class, for grades 1-5 (Kassandra Gonsalez) at SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King St. $$ for pricing see SHAPE events brochure.
23 April (Thursday) Stream Conservation Programs & Practices, Talk & Discussion (Tammy Piper & Vincent McCollum), 7pm at SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King St. FREE
25 April (Saturday) SHIP SHAPE DAY & MSWA Stream Cleanup, sign-in by 8:45am at Firefighters Activity Center, W. Orange St. A light lunch will be provided afterward.
25 April (Saturday) Rain Barrel Painting Workshop (Gail Culbertson), 2pm at SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King St.
In conjunction with its co-host Shippensburg Arts Programming & Education (SHAPE), Middle Spring Watershed Association (MSWA) is very pleased to announce an art exhibit called “FLOW: Art Inspired by Water”. The two organizations will co-host this art show in April at the SHAPE gallery, 20 W. King Street, Shippensburg. The exhibit will feature art exploring and presenting the beauty, ecology, and fragility of rivers, streams, and other water systems, and the impact of water in our lives.
The exhibit will be open to the public during gallery hours in April, kicking off with a reception the evening of Saturday, April 4, and running through Friday, April 24. April was chosen to synchronize with related events, including trout season, Shippensburg University Earth Day events on Thursday, April 23, and MSWA’s stream cleanup as part of Ship Shape Day on Saturday, April 25.
A short series of public talks on stream ecology, hydrology, and conservation will be offered on Thursday evenings during the show. The talks and exhibit are intended in part to raise public appreciation of local streams, the interconnectedness of watersheds, and watershed issues.
Simultaneous to announcing the exhibit, SHAPE and MSWA issued a call for art to be shown at it. SHAPE will be using a new, online art submission process, linked directly to their website, which is expected to make submission of artwork easier and more accessible for artists, especially for those who do not live in the area. Details about the art submission process are available via the SHAPE website http://www.shapeart.org/call-for-artists.html and https://flow.artcall.org/
By Dale Heberlig
A third spill in less than three weeks at Shippensburg's wastewater treatment plant discharged sewage into Middle Spring Creek overnight Sunday [March 2] according to Lance Hoover, Shippensburg Borough Manager.
A frustrated Hoover said plant employees discovered the discharge early Monday when they reported for work.
"I was there early this morning and will be going back," Hoover said about 8 a.m. Monday.
He said DEP has been notified and engineers were on their way.
Hoover says the malfunction appears similar to the discharge that dumped sewage into the stream overnight Feb. 25. Both recent spills could be related to a first discharge that occurred Feb. 12, when an unspecified malfunction and a recently upgraded treatment tank caused "media" to escape into the plant's filters.
While contractors reported the escaped "media" were all collected, Hoover says it appears that was not the case.
Following the Feb. 12 incident, the treatment process was transferred into a second tank at the plant -- a tank in which the upgrade had been started but not completed. Hoover says the incidents are still being investigated, but the Feb. 25 discharge and Sunday night's spill appear to have been caused by "media" collecting in the filters. The "media in the filters triggered the filters to backwash and the backwash tank overflowed, Hoover said.
Referring to what, if any, personnel failures contributed to the back-to-back-to-back discharges at the plant, Hoover predicted, "Things will be coming to a head pretty quickly."
A $12 million project to increase capacity and install a cutting-edge enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) system at the plant is underway. Completion of the project was originally scheduled for this spring.
Borough Council fired former plant manager, Chuck Music without any public explanation in November in the midst of the expansion project.
He has not been replaced. ARRO Engineers have been the designated plant operator since then.
Note: This story appeared as "Sewer discharges for a third time" on the cover of the March 4, 2014 Shippensburg News Chronicle. Accompanying the story was a note that the directors of CFJMA were meeting that night at 6pm for a special meeting to discuss the sewage discharges and would have a follow up meeting with Borough representatives at the Shippensburg Borough office on Thursday, March 6, at 11am.
Shippensburg Borough Authority was considering a plan to reuse water. That is, to take filtered, treated water from their sewage treatment facility and use it for customer water consumption. Given Shippensburg's access to groundwater it is unclear why SBA was prioritizing water reuse.
Read more about it in this News-Chronicle story
and this opinion piece
Shippensburg residents interested in learning more this were advised to attend the next Shippensburg Borough Authority meeting this Tuesday, July 9, at the Borough Office, 111 N. Fayette Street, at 7pm to ask the SBA to provide more details about the plan, and several did.
The SBA announced that they are dropping consideration of water reuse. That decision was probably influenced by the news story and opinion piece linked to above, and perhaps also by negative feedback from concerned local residents. MSWA members Chris Woltemade and Steve Dolbin and others made comments about the water reuse plan to SBA at their July 9 meeting.
A crew of dedicated MSWA volunteers met up near Hotpoint at 10am this past Saturday morning and waded down the stream with two canoes cleaning trash out of the stream as the went. When the took the boats out at Fish Hatchery Rd. about three hours later the canoes were full of trash from the stream, including a number of old tires, a kiddie swimming pool, bags full of old bottles and cans, fishing line, a pair of waterlogged sneakers, plastic shopping bags, wrappers from all kinds of convenience foods, and boatloads -- literally -- of other garbage.
They found the stream a little cleaner on this trip than the last time MSWA cleaned this particular section of the stream and believe their efforts at cleaning the stream have encouraged people to be a bit more careful about ensuring that household and garbage items do not wind up polluting Middle Spring stream.
MSWA has created a new website and made the change so that the old URL www.middlespringwatershed.org, which still works, now points to https://sites.google.com/site/middlespringwa.
Over the coming weeks future changes to this website are expected, including the ability to donate online via PayPal or similar online credit card service, more pictures in the gallery slideshow, access to additional files, an index of data on various forms of water quality testing, and more regular updates and news.