What started as a photo inventory of East Carbon City's infrastructure quickly turned into an issue Tuesday night as the EC City Council convened for the first time in October. After photographing in-town structures, council member and city treasurer Cheryl McFarland made her way to the city's treatment plant.What she found only increased water tensions between the municipality and Sunnyside Co-Generation.
"I'm not sure what that reservoir looked like to begin with, but it couldn't have looked like this," said McFarland holding up a photo of the leased pond. "The reservoir is very overgrown."
The reservoir McFarland is referring to is a small body of water located near the co-generation plant just above Highway 123 in East Carbon. It is used by the co-generation plant for internal operation and has been leased to them for that purpose since their inception.
She said Plant Manager Rick Carter met her at the facility when she went for a visit.
"He was very hospitable and said that the company had an open door policy. I asked about the ash and what is in it. Now I had researched what is in slurry piles so I knew what was going on."
According to McFarland, Carter stipulated that the only thing coming out of the stacks when the plant is burning, happens to be a little bit of lime. When asked about other chemicals being burned, he said at times they will use diesel fuel to ignite the coal but no other chemicals were burned. McFarland reportedly pressed Carter about slurry and the byproduct of arsenic. He told her that the amount of arsenic produced by the plant was negligible, that wood burning in a furnace would give off just a much of the chemical.
"I asked if he had sample and test reports that corroborated his statements," concluded McFarland. "He simply said he did not."
"So he told you that he has never burned anything else there besides the coal pile, lime stone and a little diesel fuel? asked East Carbon Mayor Orlando LaFontaine. "So he's never taken in chemicals besides that. That's weird because last year I got a letter in the mail which alerted me that they were going to burn other chemicals."
The mayor's concerns with the co-generation plant extend beyond what chemicals are being burned.
"That reservoir is something we release to them," said LaFontaine. "That's our property and it's a 20 million gallon reservoir that kept in the conditions they are keeping it in will not survive. There has been no maintenance going on, you can see that from the photos. The weeds and concrete both need to be taken care of. When we get it back will it have to be rebuilt by the city? I am concerned about this."
Following the Mayor's comments, the council inquired concerning the lease agreement. A question which was quickly answered by EC Attorney Jeremy Humes.
"There is specific information in the lease concerning upkeep," he said. "They do have to maintain it." Humes continued to state that he would review the document for specifics and update the council.
LaFontaine and other members of the council have objected to Sunnyside City and the co-generation plant's water agreement before this issue ever came to light. EC officials take issue with the fact that Sunnyside sells treated water to the plant. The water is treated at East Carbon's treatment plant. Coming to that point on Tuesday, the East Carbon mayor asked why Sunnyside Co-Gen isn't paying for 10 percent of the upkeep on Grassy Trail Reservoir as they own 10 percent of the water.