Sludge from illegal dumping in Silt contains ‘volatiles’ |

Sludge from illegal dumping in Silt contains ‘volatiles’

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT, Colorado – Whatever was being dumped into the Silt town sewer on April 13, it was not normal septic waste, according to results of tests by the Evergreen Analytical company.

At least, that’s the conclusion reached by town officials, who received the test results on Thursday, only one day after samples were driven down to Denver by a town employee.

A Rifle man, Andrew Owens, was arrested on the evening of April 13 after being spotted by a town public works employee, allegedly dumping sludge illegally from an Owens Septic company truck into the town’s sewer system.

Owens, 26, was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor offense, and released that night. But officials say those charges may change if the material being dumped turns out to be hazardous.

According to the list of chemicals supplied to the town, and sent to the Post Independent by Administrator Betsy Suerth, the samples taken from the truck included acetone, dichloroethylene, ethylbenzene, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene.

Some of those names were familiar to town Public Works Director Gerry Pace, who said many are known to be associated with natural gas drilling, although he could not say whether the sludge involved came from drilling operations.

Pace is working with investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Attorney General’s office, who will be doing further tests on the sludge.

“I’m asking them to tell me where they think these things have come from,” Pace told the Post Independent, adding that “these are all VOCs [volatile organic compounds],” as identified in the descriptive text on the test results.

“If any of these were hit in my water quality testing [for Silt’s drinking water], I’d be done. These are all drinking water violations,” Pace declared.

And, he added, “Now that we know it’s not septic tank waste, the charges might change” against Owens, the trucking company – which is owned by Owens’ father – that he works for and perhaps whoever it was that Owens Septic was working for.

Pace said he has asked Silt Police Chief Levy Burris to obtain the identity of the company or person who hired Owens to haul sludge.

Pace said he was not told how long the second phase of testing would take.

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