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July Newsline: EPA Rules to Reduce Effects of SSOs, DC Solving CSOs and More--Plus Web Exclusives
Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Labor has referred a whistleblower complaint against the district to the Indiana attorney general's office for possible legal action.
The two developments appeared to be related: The Post-Tribune of Merrillville, citing unnamed sources, reported the raid was part of an investigation involving unreported sewer overflows including some into Trail Creek, a major local waterway, and the firing of a whistleblower.
Randall Ashe, a special agent in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criminal enforcement division, said agents from the EPA, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Indiana State Police executed a federal search warrant "for evidence of environmental crimes," on June 3.
A memorandum from the Michigan City clerk's office in May 2009 referred to "alleged sewer overflows in Washington Park" and that the city's utilities committee met to review what had been done to address the problem and whether IDEM was properly notified.
"I can't tell you if it's related, but that's probably good information," Ashe told the Post-Tribune.
Indiana law mandates that the district report overflows to IDEM and the public. The Post-Tribune reported the violations may have gone unreported from about 2002 through mid-2009.
Former district employee and current City Councilman Ron Meer first contacted the city council, IDEM and the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration about safety problems and unreported overflows in May 2009.
Meer lost his job April 1 after an investigation revealed that he had told state regulators about safety issues at the district and not his bosses.
Meer confirmed that he was involved with two whistleblower cases, one with IOSHA and the other with federal agencies.
Plastic pipes conference expands scope
The Plastic Pipes XV Conference (PPXV) organized by the Plastic Pipes Conference Association (PPCA) will be held Sept. 20-22, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. More than 500 delegates representing 45 countries are anticipated to attend this bi-annual event that is only held in North America every four years. Sessions will be held in a concurrent format giving attendees a choice of topics. More than 100 speakers are expected to present on topics ranging from energy and irrigation, to installation practices and material advancements.