EPA Actions Against the Hopewell, Virginia, Wastewater Treatment Facility

CED-81-47: Published: Mar 3, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1981.

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GAO reviewed questions concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA): (1) enforcement actions against the Hopewell Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Hopewell, Virginia; (2) technical assistance to the city of Hopewell; and (3) withholding of the final grant payment from the city.

The Hopewell facility opened prematurely and experienced almost immediate problems with its solids-handling system and with incompatible and excessive industrial discharges. EPA presented the city with a consent decree requiring it to: (1) set timeframes for the completion of construction; (2) implement a program to remedy any deficiency in the facility; and (3) pay a fine for past permit violations. Because the city refused to sign the decree, EPA and the State of Virgina filed suit in a federal court against the city for violations of the Clean Water Act. The city contends that EPA has continued enforcement actions against it without providing requested technical assistance and has withheld a detailed evaluation study on the facility's operations. The city also claims that EPA has withheld a final grant payment pending completion of an interim audit, approval of a maintenance manual, and performance of a final inspection even though EPA has caused delays in the completion of these steps. EPA states that the final grant payment was withheld because the facility was in noncompliance with its permit and because the interim audit questioned costs equivalent to the amount withheld.

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