EPA orders Benton Harbor to deal with federal code violations

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is giving new orders to Benton Harbor in the latest federal response to the southwest Michigan city’s lead contamination water crisis.

According to the 23-page document, the agency found numerous federal code violations, ranging from system failures to a lack of maintenance records and monitoring residual disinfectant.

As a result, some EPA orders to the city include:

  • Bringing the system’s nonoperable continuous monitoring devices to federal standards in seven days;
  • Reconfiguring the SCADA system to federal standards within 60 days;
  • Repairing filters at the city’s water treatment plant within 15 days;
  • Conducting an independent, third-party study into possible restructuring and/or administrative changes.

One key order also deals with “lead and copper public education requirements.” This forces the city to notify residents on their water bill whenever the system exceeds the action level for lead. 

The order also requires the city to make a “good faith effort” to find licensed child care centers, preschools and obstetricians when the lead action level is exceeded.

If the city fails to comply with the order, a federal judge could fine it up to more than $59,000 per day for each day a violation happens.

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