What happens when a town allows for untreated sewage to discharge from manholes, pipes and pumping stations into a creek that’s used as part of the town’s water source? That town gets sued by the EPA and state agencies – and that’s exactly what is happening to the town of Fort Gay, West Virginia.
Legal News Reporter Nicole Howley, reporting on Justice News Flash describes the situation in detail…
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sued Fort Gay for clean water act violations involving untreated sewage.
Huntington, WV—The town of Fort Gay, West Virginia, are being sued to stop the discharge of untreated sewage from manholes, pipes, and pumping stations into the Mill Creek. The Justice Department and the West Virginia Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) http://www.wvdep.org/, and Health and Human Resources (DHHR) http://www.wvdhhr.org/ all filed the lawsuit in behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) www.epa.gov, as reported by the EPA.
The lawsuit claims the town had several violations of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the West Virginia Water Pollution Control Act. The discharge of the untreated sewage could contaminate Fort Gray’s drinking supply, which then poses a threat to human health. Since January 2007 on several occasions, the West Virginia town discharged raw sewage from its pumping stations into the Mill Creek. The creek is reportedly a tributary of the Tug Fork River, which is the location of the main intake of the Fort Gay Water Works, just a half-mile down stream from the Mill Creek. The Fort Gay Water Works reportedly the main water supplier to the town. In addition, the lawsuit alleges the untreated sewage has been spotted in residential yards, basements, streams, and the Tug Fork River. Fort Gay also failed to comply with a 2003 EPA order to take all reasonable steps to minimize or prevent these potentially harmful discharges. The lawsuit is seeking an injunction directing Fort Gay to eliminate or reduce the danger to human health from the discharge of the untreated sewage, meet federal requirements, and the state-issued pollution discharge permit.
The raw sewage is home to viruses and protozoa in addition to other parasites, which can cause illness when they come into contact with humans. Adverse health affects of these bacteria can cause sore throats, stomach cramps and diarrhea. They can also cause life-threatening illnesses like cholera, dysentery, infectious hepatitis, and severe gastroenteritis.