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Michigan City wastewater superintendent pleads guilty to testing violations

The former superintendent of the Michigan City wastewater treatment plant admitted Thursday morning that he knowingly hid information about water bypassing the plant and other issues from the government.

Daniel R. Olson, 62, of Merrillville pled guilty during a change of plea hearing at the U.S. District Court in Hammond to three counts of violating the Clean Water Act. Under questioning by his attorney, Martin Kus, and U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen, Olson said he did know that at times some water had bypassed parts of the treatment plant but he never reported those bypasses to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, as required by a permit.

According to his charging information and a plea agreement, that water went into Trail Creek, which releases into Lake Michigan.

He also said that he never reported samples showing high levels of total chlorine residuals. “I failed to report all tests that were taken in a 24-hour period,” he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Ault said Olson never reported any sample that had TCR levels above what the permit allowed. However, Olson disputed that the government would have any evidence showing that final treated water had high TCR levels because of later steps that would have likely gotten rid of any remaining TCR.

He did agree that he knowingly violated the law, though, and also went on to admit that he also delayed taking samples of e. Coli if he thought the level of chlorine wasn’t high enough to properly kill off the e. Coli to a level allowed by permits. Olson said he would direct his lab to turn the chlorine up and then would wait about 30 minutes before taking a sample.

The treatment plant was required to take instant samples of the water throughout the day to see what its quality was at that time.

A sentencing hearing has been set for June 20.



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