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DEC told Niagara Falls Water Board to hire firm to investigate sewage discharge

The latest release of nearly 3 million gallons of sewage into the Niagara River happened just days after the state directed the municipal authority to hire an outside consultant to investigate the board's discharge of smelly black water into the river below the American Falls.

The Water Board recently hired engineering firm  AECOM, based in Los Angeles, to probe what caused the July 29 oily, black discharge that fouled the lower river, an incident that was captured on a video that went viral.

DEC officials said that was at the agency's direction to satisfy a Sept. 1 deadline to produce a full report on the incident.

That report will be part of the DEC's broader investigation in its determination of whether fines, penalties or other sanctions on Niagara Falls' wastewater plant is warranted.

In the days following the July 29 incident, DEC officials said the discharge "clearly violated water quality standards."

DEC: Niagara Falls discharge 'clearly violated water quality standards'

The Water Board's Aug. 4 public statement on the issue blamed the July 29 discharge on a worker leaving his post while the pump was emptying a basin, causing the water to overflow a chlorine treatment tank and run into the river.

"At this time, we have no reason to disbelieve it, and we have no reason to believe it. These things all have to be corroborated and verified," said Niagara Falls Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto, whose department has joined the DEC in investigating the incident.

"We need to verify what they are claiming and do our own independent fact-finding," Lynch said. "I'm not going to make any conclusions until we fully investigate."

"We also directed them to take steps to prevent that incident from reoccurring, which we believe they have done," Lynch said.

 

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