Former El Reno Wastewater Plant Supervisor Accused of Tampering Samples, Hiding E. Coli
The man in charge of overseeing El Reno's wastewater is accused of doctoring test results to hide E. Coli.
According to documents filed in court by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the investigation started thanks to a whistleblower in the wastewater treatment facility.
The DEQ said a lab worker at the El Reno Wastewater Treatment Plant, run by Veolia, noticed her boss tampering with water samples.
Documents claim the woman watched Kenneth Fulton dilute wastewater samples with chlorine and bleach to hide E. Coli, before the water was tested and put back into the North Canadian River.
El Reno city officials said the woman brought them the evidence which the city turned over to the DEQ.
The state has stripped Fulton of his certification, and the company that handles the wastewater treatment said he has since lost his job.
In a statement to News 9, Veolia, the company contracted to handle El Reno’s wastewater said:
“Veolia North America finds these lone-wolf actions by a former employee to be abhorrent and will cooperate with and assist government officials as they seek to remedy this situation as quickly as possible. While we’re still gathering facts and investigating the situation, our understanding is that the former employee, who no longer works for VNA, admitted to Oklahoma officials that he made the decision to falsify samples on his own without knowledge of the company. His actions are unacceptable. Veolia North America takes seriously its responsibility to the communities in which we operate and remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of regulatory and legal compliance. Our company has moved aggressively since being informed of the matter –within an hour of notification we had an experienced, licensed operator in place. We also worked quickly to determine that the effluent water leaving the wastewater facility is well within compliance as required or recommended by the Oklahoma DEQ. We have and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent with the ODEQ. At the conclusion of its investigation, the company will not hesitate to take appropriate and necessary legal action to correct the wrongdoing.”
Documents from the DEQ said Fulton had been tampering with the water for more than a year.
El Reno Mayor Matt White said the city has been running additional tests and has new measures in place.
White said city officials are now double checking the data they received from the plant.
“What we're trying to do now is go through the process of getting all the documents, getting all the facts together of what was done. We do know the water is safe to drink. It doesn't affect our drinking water at all,” White said.
The DEQ continues to investigate and has filed a legal case against Fulton.