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By RUSTY DENNEN
Culpeper County has corrected violations cited by the state at one of its sewage treatment plants.
That's according to a consent order signed by the county and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A consent order is a voluntary, negotiated agreement between the state agency and a responsible party.
According to the order, the Greens Corner Wastewater Treatment Plant off State Route 666 exceeded discharge limitations for a form of nitrogen in December 2011 and January of this year. Nitrogen, a nutrient, is a major pollutant of the Chesapeake Bay.
The plant discharges into a tributary of Mountain Run, which runs into the Rappahannock River. Mountain Run is listed by the state as impaired for recreational use because of E. coli bacteria; the water quality is unsuitable for some types of aquatic organisms; and it's under a fish-consumption advisory because of elevated levels of PCBs in fish tissue.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are industrial coolants that were banned in the 1970s. They were found to cause certain cancers and other health problems.
The DEQ issued a warning letter on the discharges in February, followed by a notice of violation.
The county responded that the discharges exceeding nitrogen limits were related to bringing the plant back in operation after it had been idle from late October to early December of last year. It also reported that the plant had discharged treated sewage for only 26 days during December 2011 and January of this year.
In March, the county entered into a water and sewer agreement with the town of Culpeper under which the plant will be decommissioned.
The plant then again exceeded its nitrogen discharge in June, prompting another notice of violation from the DEQ. The county said the June violation was an anomaly.
The county has since verified that the violations have been corrected.
The order, subject to approval by the State Water Control Board, requires the county to submit to the DEQ a plan and schedule to maintain compliance with permit limits.
Read the consent order online
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431