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Commissioner Nordstrom compares situation to issue of paying for faulty car part 

(Jan. 11, 2019) It’s back to the drawing board for officials responsible for the Riddle Farm sanitary service area because of the continuing failure of a portion of its waste treatment facility.

The county commissioners eventually voted for starting a dialogue to see if the manufacturer of a potentially faulty part would take responsibility for the problem.

At issue initially was the inability of the treatment center to process solid waste effectively.

The facility, which is located near the GlenRiddle development, has incurred several expenses as a result, and Deputy Director of Public Works John Ross told the commissioners possible fixes could cost more than $100,000. Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if that figure was an estimate, which Ross said it was. 

 “My first priority was to get the plant back up and running,” Ross said.

Ross said there were three issues surrounding the service area over the past few months: the flow equalization tank, screening and membranes.

He added the upper tank is unusable, which put the lower portion of the tank at a disadvantage because the available storage space was significantly reduced. However, he noted fixing the tank was addressed during a December commissioners meeting.

As for the screening issue, the current screen allows material to be reduced to 3 millimeters, but new recommendations dictate the screening should reduce materials to 1-millimeter. Ross said the Landings and Mystic Harbour plants have adapted the 1-millimeter screens as standard. 

Ross said the final issue surrounding the membranes themselves was that they were deemed defective as they were easily clogged.

Ross added the department was able to get through the summer season, and had ample space to cover the area during the winter months, but crews had to take the waste to other plants. 

New membranes were installed under warranty at no cost the week prior to Christmas. Ross said problems surrounding the membranes were then corrected.

 “The situation is very much under control right now,” Ross said. 

Commissioner Joshua Nordstrom asked Ross if faulty parts caused the issues? If so, he said with such an expense, the manufacturer should bear some of the expense. Ross was cautious in his answer citing possible legal implications.

Nordstrom used his experience working in the automotive industry to illustrate his point, which questioned the reasoning for the hefty cost. 

“If we had a faulty part from GM or Toyota, and we went to one of our customers and said we’ll replace the part but you’ve got to pay us to do the work, we would have some unhappy customers,” Nordstrom said. “Being that we’re the customers here, that makes me very unhappy if we’re taking six figures worth of taxpayer money and spending it on something that was caused through no fault of the county.”

Bertino made a motion to have a discussion about the manufacturer’s potential liability and responsibility, which was seconded by Nordstrom.

Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

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