Friday, May 26, 2006

The January 30, 2006 tour update

The tour in January was given to a union official. He was skeptical of any problems at the plant. He brought along his cell phone –camera and took several pictures. He stated that Boynton Beach has safety problems at their water treatment plant and the union had been instrumental in fixing those. At the end of the tour he stated that we do have serious problems here and he would do what he could. To date, he has done nothing.

The east building high service pump is in violation of the city lock-out, tag-out policy. Further, it can result in loss of life and shut down water service to the entire service area for several days.

The filter access problem has not been altered. However, computer control was restored, so that workers do not have to climb and crawl through the pipe galley for routine filter washing.

Some of the open gratings have been covered. This was not done as a result of any union input. Two gratings were covered following a request from the health department.

The chemical treatment in use for the past ten years has been defective, resulting in a hard complex of ferric sulfate and lime coating the piping and filter media. This problem, ignored by management, has resulted in periodic pipe and filter media replacement at great expense. For the past several years these fixes have been discontinued. Now the pipes leading to the filters are so occluded that diesel pumps and hoses have been employed to bring the water to the filters. The filter media has been coated by that chemical complex, rendering the media ineffective. The sand, garnet and carbon of the filters are no longer adsorptive and have aggregated into rock with fissures for the water flow. Any microbes that are not destroyed by chlorine disinfectant pass through to the customers. That includes the algae that produce the earthy taste and odor and protozoan that produce disease.

This could be expected in the water system for Baghdad, but it is the water system for the richest people in the world, the residents of the Town of Palm Beach.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In a January 30, 2006 Tour of the West Palm Beach Water Treatment Plant, Several irregularities were noted.

I am highlighting a few of these:
The east building high service no. 2 pump has a defective control valve. To turn the pump on or off, An employee must climb down a ladder beneath a grating and crawl through a sub basement chamber to reach a manual control valve to open or close it all whole the pump is running. This “temporary” measure has existed for more than one year.
The filters are set up to work via unreliable computer control. This system has been out of service repeatedly. There is no redundancy or back up. Employees routinely perform mandatory backwashing procedures by locally operating each valve actuator in situ. This necessitates climbing into holes beneath gratings, crawling under gratings. Walking on, climbing over and stretching across three or four foot gaps, with no benefit of ladders. Some walkways are blocked by unnecessary slop sinks.
A walk throughout this factory presents one with a maze of wires, pipes, open gratings excavations and other hazards with little to no hazard warnings. Most of these obstacles have been in place for more than one year. In some chemical treatment rooms, access to the machinery was blocked by rows of barrels, open gratings, hoses and pipes. There are also physical and chemical hazards inherent in this type of operation. Certainly the employees should not be distracted from the job at hand by the above noted problems.

Beyond the obstacle course, it was also noted that the filter media for the city’s drinking water consists of lumps, rocks and fissures. Half of the equipment as broken or out of service: Ozone disinfection, Potassium permanganate machinery, a mud filled sedimentation basin, a disassembled transfer pump lying on the ground and improvised pumps and hose to move water around old deposit filled pipes that can no longer deliver water. I worry for the safety of the customers using the water from this facility.

How has this situation been permitted to go on for so long? Doesn’t the city have any regard for the safety of it’s employees and citizens?

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The answer: West Palm Beach