Town council addresses OSHA, hard water complaints

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

In the first official meeting of the newly-elected town council, held on Monday, Nov. 18, Town Manager Robert Lee detailed how an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection was conducted at the Plainville Police Department in June, 2019, following the filing of a complaint.

Lee explained that the town received two letters in Sept. 2019, from the Connecticut Department of Labor Division of Occupational Safety and Health—one detailing several violations, a fine of $280, and the request for abatement. The second letter detailed a “letter of significant findings” and requested a response from the town by mid-October.

As of this meeting, the town had corrected all but two of the items cited by OSHA.

“The first of these items is the accumulation of dust present on the fabric walls located in the dispatch area,” said Lee. “The second issue is the installation of an exhaust system for the evidence room.”

A proposal was received from Vibrasciences, Inc., for the installation of “sound-seal class one fire rated fiberglass acoustic panels,” for a total of $15,633, which would also include the removal of the current fabric walls in the dispatch area. A proposal was received from Modern Mechanical Services, Inc., to install the exhaust system for the evidence room for a total of $7,975. The total cost to address both items is $23,608.

Plainville Police Chief Matthew Catania explained that the $280 fine was significantly lower than what was first anticipated.

“That fine being that low is indicative of the transparency and cooperation that OSHA received when they got to our facility and started touring the facility,” said Catania, “and also coming to the realization that we were working on probably 90% of these projects at our own pace. So the complaint really just hastened the process.”

The chief detailed that in the dispatch area, the fabric walls were collecting debris such as dust and even exhaust from vehicles that comes in through the intake. Due to their cloth material, the walls are “obviously dirty,” and that the employees in that area are breathing in that same debris.

“The exhaust in the evidence room, that’s something that when we built the building no one thought that we’d have these large holds of marijuana and things that actually do permeate the building, so when OSHA arrived you could smell the cannabis coming out of the evidence room and permeating the area in the hallway and the basement level,” said the chief. “As the town manager explained, on the town side we’re doing some of the work to mitigate the price on this.”

Both items were unanimously approved by the council.

Hard water addressed

Lee also informed the council that earlier this month he met with representatives from Valley Water, the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency (PURA) and the Office of Consumer Council (OCC) to discuss the proposed ion exchange system for the Woodford Avenue pump station.

“The purpose of installing the ion exchange system is to significantly lower the hardness of the water supplied by this aquifer,” said Lee. “After the system is installed, Valley Water intends to use this well-field as the main supplier of water for Plainville.”

Valley Water told Lee they expect to award a contract in early December 2019, with bid documents anticipated to be finalized in June 2020 and all bids to be received in the fall of 2020. Should the project remain on schedule, the installation would occur in spring of 2021.

In the same meeting, Lee said, Valley Water informed those gathered that they plan to submit a general rate case next spring. The proposed increase would not involve the improvements to the Woodford Avenue well-field, just their general operation costs. Public hearings will be held during that process, but as of this meeting no dates had been set.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.