Fluoride spill costly lesson for Marysville

Jackie Smith 5:20 p.m. EDT October 2, 2015

MARYSVILLE The $27,000 bill to clean up a July fluoride leak isnt the end of it.

A 1,400 gallon tank of fluoride at the Marysville Water Filtration Plant leaked July 29. Marysville officials said theyll be paying $5,000 of the $26,935 bill, with the citys insurer covering the remainder.

The cost includes recoating the plants garage floor, replacing pipes and he spilled fluoride, and compensating the Marysville Fire Department, St. Clair County Emergency Management and Youngs Environmental.

But the costs arent expected to end there, because the city wants to make sure the incident isnt repeated.

Bari Wrubel, supervisor of water and wastewater operations, said the leak affected one of three major chemical tanks before fluoride traveled into a drain on the south side of the plant and into the St. Clair River.

The faulty fluoride tank wasnt entirely to blame for the impact of the spill. The tanks secondary containment system also failed. Wrubel said the secondary containment isnt inspected as rigorously as the tanks themselves.

It was kind of an eye-opener. The rules are when you have chemical storage on stage, you have secondary containment, he said. But now we go back to make it a fool-proof system.

The city will be making preventative repairs to all major tanks back-up containers at both the water and wastewater plants.

Wrubel said it was recommended the city place a better sealant on the floors of the systems and several feet up on the adjoining inside walls at an estimated cost of $75,000 for the water plant and $50,000 for the wastewater plant.

Wrubel said that will be requested in the citys 2016-17 budget.

I think that we have one of the very best department heads when we talk about water filtration and water treatment, said Marysville Mayor Dan Damman. I think that when we were apprised of the situation, we were apprised immediately, we were apprised of what steps were being taken to (clean up) the spill and we were apprised of what steps were taken to make sure it doesnt happen again.

Nearby Chrysler Beach had already been closed at the time July 29 due to E. coli levels, and no additional health hazards were discovered when the water was tested. The fluoride spill didnt affect the citys drinking water.

Wrubel said if not for the secondary container, the fluoride would never have made it to the St. Clair River. Only about 200 gallons were left in the affected tank after the spill.

Because he said it isnt really industry standard to check or test secondary containers, he hopes other plants that house chemical tanks take notice of the issue.

Wrubel said the tanks in both Marysvilles plants are slated for future repair as a precaution. He said, It would be foolish to say lets get this one taken care of and then think in two years we have one at our wastewater plant.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.

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