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Officials: Cheese company obeying its consent order

June 13, 2010
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Local cheese manufacturer Euphrates Inc. is complying with all aspects of its consent order in making improvements to its sewer-monitoring station, sewer officials said Wednesday night.

"As of right now, it's working," Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Laboratory Director Joseph Cellary said of the revamped station.

"They're meeting all the conditions [of the consent order]," sewer plant Manager George Bevington added.

Euphrates, located at the Johnstown Industrial Park, had to make improvements to its monitoring station as part of a consent order from late last year that also paid the sewage treatment plant $985,000.

Officials announced Dec. 31 that Euphrates paid that amount to the sewer plant through a consent order that ended a criminal investigation into whether the cheese company bypassed the cities' sewer system in an effort to save money. The consent order disposes of any of Euphrates' alleged violations of sewer-use law that may have occurred over several years.

The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board heard Wednesday from sewer plant officials that Euphrates installed new pumps and flow meters, which are now operational.

Euphrates President Hamdi Ulukaya couldn't be reached for comment.

Cellary reported Euphrates met a June 1 deadline to make monitoring station improvements. He said flow from the cheese company's waste byproducts are going into a 10-foot deep pipe and a pump system kicks in to allow more detailed readings through a flow meter. The company is generally discharging at a maximum of 160 gallons of wastewater per minute, he said.

"All of their discharge is coming through that meter," Cellary said. "We're getting what happens to be very accurate measurements of flow."

Cellary said security fencing was also installed at the site, and he was due today to inspect the upgraded monitoring station.

Bevington said that by the board's next meeting in July, there should be more data on Euphrates' new monitoring efforts. He said the company is current in its sewer bills.

Investigation into Euphrates followed allegations from sworn depositions given in May 2009 in federal court in Philadelphia by former Euphrates Director of Operations Joseph Andrews and David Blakeslee, an electrician for the cheese maker.

Andrews said cutting the power to a monitoring shed outside Euphrates that measured samples of whey and was used to calculate Euphrates' sewer bills was a "common practice" at Euphrates.

A local criminal investigation into Euphrates came to light in July 2009 when Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira and the Johnstown Police Department got involved. No charges were ever filed.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at johnstown@leaderherald.com

 
 

 

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