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Storm-damaged wastewater treatment plant bills at $120,000

The city owes more than $120,000 to repair equipment damaged at the wastewater treatment plant during a September storm, though the Department of Public Works chief told the City Council Thursday that all but $10,000 should be covered by insurance.

The storm caused a power failure at the plant that resulted in 500,000 to 1 million gallons of untreated wastewater to dump into the Connecticut River over a nine-hour period. The backup generator failed when the plant lost power and the auto-dialer system that notifies plant personnel when there is a problem also did not work that night.

DPW Director Ned Huntley said the city had to replace the motors and have emergency work done. Close to half of the bill, or $48,800, will go toward rental of emergency pumps that were installed while the regular motors were sent out of state for repairs. Insurance will cover all but a $10,000 deductible, he said.

The city may also face fines from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Huntley said.

“I’ve been assured we would hear from them regarding fines or penalties,” he told the council. The City Council Thursday voted to transfer $37,166 in unused funds to offset the expenses. The money is left over from three separate wastewater treatment and sewer department projects.


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