JOHNSTOWN & GLOVERSVILLE – The NY-Alert system reported a 40-gallon antifreeze solution leak from the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility into the Cayadutta Creek.
According to the report Wednesday, the leak occurred at 11:32 a.m., lasted for 18 minutes and was caused by a pipe break from the treatment facility’s CONGEN-3 methane to electricity generator used to provide heat to the plant’s “Sludge Building.”
State law requires municipalities to report to the Department of Environmental Conservation whenever any publicly owned sewage treatment plant has a sewer spill. DEC then sends out NY-Alert emails to people who’ve signed up to receive them and posts the information online to alert.ny.gov.
Wastewater treatment plant Manager Wallace Arnold said the anti-freeze solution that was spilled into the creek was about 67% water and 33% anti-freeze.
“We immediately shut off the valves, but in the meantime, 40 gallons of antifreeze leaked out,” he said. He said it went down a storm drain. Arnold said the cause of the pipe break is unknown.
“There was a lot of insulation on [the pipe] when it broke, so until the guys break it open and look into it, I don’t know,” he said.
Arnold said he isn’t sure yet what the cost of the repair will be, but it will be “borne internally as an infrastructure cost.”
The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility has been undergoing a major electrical systems repair since April 29 when the plant started experiencing “rolling blackouts” caused by the failure of some 1970s vintage power lines. The plant was forced to use electrical generators to maintain operations.
The city of Gloversville on May 4 authorized the emergency borrowing of up to $2 million for the repair work. The sewer plant pays back the cost of the bond by lowering sewer rate costs for Gloversville sewer users as a means of paying off the bond.
Arnold said the electrical work, which was done by High Voltage Electric Services from Albany, will likely cost between $1 million and $1.5 million. He said most of the work, which entailed replacing underground 13.4 KV cable lines and surrounding them with PVC pipes, has been completed, and now asphalt has to be laid down over the areas that were dug up. He said the treatment facility was not required to go through a competitive bidding process for the work because it was done on an emergency basis. He said High Voltage Electric Services had done work at the plant in the past.
“If we had had to go out to bid, that takes months,” he said. “Once they put the asphalt back in, they should be all done.”
Arnold said all three CONGEN units at the plant were back in operation prior to the anti-freeze leak.
He said COGEN-3 is the newest of the plant’s methane to electricity generating units, dating back to 2015, and the plant had been trying to run it as much as possible throughout the duration of the plant’s electrical problems.