CertainTeed fined for drinking water violations

CertainTeed Corp. will pay $365,500 in civil penalties to settle alleged violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act at its vinyl siding manufacturing plant in Westlake, La., which had no approved source of drinking water for its employees for years.
The Malvern, Pa.-based building products company failed to correct "significant deficiencies" identified during a sanitary survey of the Lake Charles plant by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). The violations included failure to provide approved and permitted drinking water for the 43 employees as well as failure to monitor and test for contaminants that can result in adverse health effects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also inspected the site, says the settlement calls for "the largest civil penalty payment under the Safe Drinking Water Act by a public water system with respect to drinking water in the state of Louisiana."
"This is an excellent example of the EPA and Louisiana working together to ensure compliance with safe drinking water standards," EPA Region 6 Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Director Cheryl Seager said in an Aug. 24 news release. "We are committed to protecting the public health and will not hesitate to hold companies accountable who refuse to comply with the law."
The health department identified the significant deficiencies, which were related to drinking water treatment requirements, in December 2012, and EPA issued CertainTeed an administrative order in May 2014 to correct them. EPA conducted a follow-up inspection in June 2015 and found several areas of concern.
"The facility has no ​ state-approved source of potable water. The potable water system is being fed from nonpotable sources," EPA's June 9, 2015, inspection report said.
The report also takes CertainTeed to task for not having the water system supervised by a certified operator.
CertainTeed reportedly has three wells at the site. The easternmost, which was designated as the potable water source to serve five buildings and emergency wash stations, was damaged by Hurricane Rita in September 2005. The north and south wells reportedly were nonpotable and used to fill large tanks for the fire suppression system and cooling towers.
The exact time that the drinking water well was abandoned wasn't determined by investigators. The 2015 EPA report says plant operators then used a 1-inch pipe to pull water from the fire suppression system, which was supplied by the industrial wells, to a liquid chlorinator.
Liquid chlorine was used to disinfect the water. There was no filtration and no pipe backflow prevention to keep chlorinated water from going back into the fire suppression system tanks, according to EPA.
A ¾-inch pipe "coming from the chlorine tank" then supplied buildings, eye wash stations and emergency showers throughout the facility. Several utility operators took daily chlorine residuals.
EPA gave CertainTeed several options in June 2015 to address the concerns. The company could rehabilitate the eastern well or make one of the other wells suitable for potable water. CertainTeed took more than four years to address the violations, despite numerous enforcement efforts by EPA and the state of Louisiana, including letters from the LDH, a joint inspection by LDH and EPA, and an EPA administrative order, according to an Aug. 24 EPA news release.
In an emailed statement to Plastics News, CertainTeed said the plant has installed a new drinking water well and has taken steps to ensure compliance going forward.
"The safety of its employees, the environment and the communities it serves is a top priority for CertainTeed," the company said.
With estimated profile sales of $680 million, CertainTeed is the fifth-largest pipe, profile and tubing manufacturer in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
CertainTeed is a subsidiary of Cie de Saint-Gobain SA, which is based in France and has more than 6,300 employees and 60 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The group saw sales of $3.7 billion in 2017.
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Improper Backflow Prevention Could Lead to Copper Poisoning

Soda fountain machines are found in almost every establishment. Although those fizzy drinks are a tasty treat proper installation and maintenance is needed to prevent problems.

The machines work by mixing flavored syrup with carbonated water to make soda. The carbonated water is made by taking regular tap water and adding carbon dioxide (CO₂) gas creating carbonic acid. Without the carbonation fizz, it is no different than flavored syrup. When CO₂ is mixed with water, carbonic acid (a weak acid) is formed. Many water supply lines are made from copper. If CO₂ backs up into a copper water line, carbonic acid will dissolve some of the copper. 
 The water containing the dissolved copper will eventually be used in dispensing soft drinks and the first few customers receiving the drinks are likely to suffer with the symptoms of copper poisoning. Symptoms of copper poisoning by ingestion include vomiting and gastrointestinal distress.

On July 29, 1986, a woman and two girls attending a county fair in southwest Missouri came to the first aid station complaining of vomiting and abdominal distress. The symptoms occurred after consuming a carbonated beverage from a local stand, and investigation found that the soda from this stand contained elevated levels of copper and zinc. Examination of a simple check valve in one of the lines of the carbonation system revealed a stuck spring allowing backflow to occur.

On January 1, 1989, twelve children from daycare centers in the Dallas, Texas area suffered severe vomiting and stomach cramps after drinking water and soda at a movie theatre. It was discovered that a soda dispenser had malfunctioned the previous day allowing carbonated water to flow back into the water pipes of the building. This water had remained in the lines overnight and leached copper from the pipes. The next day, the copper-laced water flowed back into the soda machine and to a nearby water fountain. Later tests confirmed that the children suffered from copper poisoning.

If the proper backflow prevention device is used, the chances of copper poisoning are reduced or eliminated. The most common device, and the one required by the Kansas Food Code, is a dual check valve with an intermediate vent (American Society of Sanitary Engineering Standard #1022). The device consists of two independent check valves with an atmospheric port (vent). The port is between the check valves and will vent liquids and gases under backflow conditions. The device to be installed upstream from a carbonating device and downstream from any copper in the water supply line and to be preceded by a screen of not less than 100 mesh to 1 inch. Newer installations will most likely have the screen built into the carbonator pump.