State quality agency issues notice against Vance AFB housing provider over fish kill
By MITCHELL WILLETTS | Enid News & Eagle, Okla. | Published: October 26, 2019
(Tribune News Service) — Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality issued a notice of violation to Vance Air Force Base's housing provider this week for contaminating a creek near by the base, which resulted in the death of dozens of fish.
The fish kill Initially was reported to ODEQ on Aug. 27. The department inspected the site and reviewed the incident and actions taken by Hunt Housing before issuing notice Monday to the company.
Approximately 90 fish under 6 inches in length were found dead along a 100-yard span of an unnamed tributary of Boggy Creek, according to ODEQ, after chlorinated water was introduced into the habitat.
According to the notice, the incident occurred after a Vance housing sewer line became clogged and began to leak out through a manhole. Hunt Housing responded by "flushing the area with chlorinated water from a nearby fire hydrant," the notice said.
"The chlorinated water then entered into a storm water drain that discharges to the receiving stream where the fish kill was observed."
The city of Enid was alerted of the fish kill and sent employees to assist at the site, which is near Fox Drive, City Manager Jerald Gilbert said.
"When we have an incident like that, we do our best to clean it up, contain it, then report it to DEQ," Gilbert said.
ODEQ leveled two violations against Hunt Housing. One violation was for polluting the body of water. The second was for doing so without first notifying and receiving permission from the state.
"To comply with the Clean Water Act, Oklahoma State Statutes require any entity to first obtain a permit from DEQ before allowing a potential pollutant to enter a water body," Erin Hatfield, DEQ communications director, said. "This allows DEQ to ensure that any waste-stream entering the water body meets or exceeds the quality of water in that water body to protect public health and the environment."
Other, safer methods could, and should have, been used to clean up the sewage, according to DEQ.
Vance Air Force Base and Hunt Housing released a joint statement regarding the fish kill incident.
"On 27 August 2019, Vance Air Force Base was made aware of a sewage release in base housing. Hunt Housing Ltd., the property owner/manager, performed cleanup actions shortly thereafter in coordination with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality ('DEQ'). An investigation is underway to determine whether there was any environmental impact from the cleanup actions and to determine any follow-up actions that may be required as a result of this incident," the statement said.
Per the notice of violation, Hunt Housing is required to write a letter to OEQ "detailing the methods that will be employed to ensure this does not happen again."
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