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Erosion Control Company Penalized $18,975

Erosion Control Company Penalized $18,975
Following Backflow Incident Involving Somerset Water Supply

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) penalized R.B. Arello Company, Inc. (d/b/a Hydrograss Technologies, Inc.) $18,975 in response to a backflow incident to the Somerset Water Supply, which resulted in a Do Not Drink Order, that occurred when Hydrograss was acting as subcontractor to Cianbro/Middlesex at the Veteran's Memorial Bridge construction project in Somerset.

On May 31, 2011, Hydrograss was conducting hydroseeding for this project, in part as an erosion control measure, when an employee accessed a new fire hydrant located adjacent to a nearby nursing home. The nursing home at that time was drawing in large quantities of water, and the improper connection by Hydrograss - a violation - and the change in pressure at the hydrant, caused a backflow that resulted in hydroseed material being drawn into the water distribution system.

Soon after, the Town of Somerset notified MassDEP of the presence of hydroseed material in the public water supply distribution system. MassDEP immediately issued a Do Not Drink Order to Somerset, and the order remained in effect from May 31 to June 2, 2011, while the system was flushed out and tested for hydroseed material.

"Contractors and operators withdrawing from public water supplies must be fully aware of their responsibilities under the regulations in order to prevent any impacts to a public water supply or its distribution system," said David Johnston, director of MassDEP's Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville. "The slightest inattention to detail while connecting to a public water supply can impact a community for days."

Hydrograss took immediate, responsible actions itself, and has since worked to prevent any future backflow incidents by conducting additional employee training sessions. Also, Hydrograss has initiated safeguards, including the purchasing of mechanical backflow preventers/fittings and outfitting its trucks so that proper connection to hydrants is ensured. In addition to admitting to the violation, Hydrograss has agreed to pay the full $18,975 penalty.

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