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City sets new rules on grease

Published 12:02 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vicksburg restaurants and night clubs that include meals on their menus will have to follow a new set of rules on disposing cooking fats, oils and grease.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday approved an ordinance regulating the disposal of grease and cooking fats in the city’s sewer system. The ordinance becomes effective 30 days after it is published.
The ordinance is part of the federally mandated requirements under a consent decree between the city and the Environmental Protection Agency that was signed in 2013 after an EPA report cited the city for allowing raw sewage to be dumped into the Mississippi River and other local streams during a five-year period.
It sets restrictions on the type and design of grease interceptors, which prevent grease, oils and fats from entering the sewer system, traps for retaining and separating waterborne greases and grease collection and facilities.
“We’re going forward, we’re trying to stay in compliance because we (may) have other lawsuits pending by the EPA,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “In order to move forward, we have to be in compliance.”
Besides the consent decree, the city paid a $17,000 fine and is required by EPA to reassess, repair and map the city’s 107-year-old sewer system over a 10-year period. Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said the city will reassess, repair and remap one-tenth of the system each year. The project cost for the first year, which is expected to start with the 2015 fiscal year, is estimated at $3.118 million.
“It’s another issue where previous administrations have been kicking the can down the road and we’ve got to stop,” Flaggs said. “It’s costing us money with sewer problems, drainage problems; it’s costing us more money to not do anything than hold somebody accountable for doing something to comply with the law. I’m just afraid that if we don’t go forward, we’re going to be sued by the EPA again.”