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?

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