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Lawmakers asked to investigate EPA actions in Ashland County sewage plant

ODANAH, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s federal lawmakers are being asked to investigate the EPA’s actions involving the sewage plant at Odanah.

The plant serves the Bad River Indian Reservation in Ashland County, one of the biggest opponents of a new iron ore mine that’s planned upstream.

State Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, who played one of the biggest roles in approving a new mining bill, asked the state’s House and Senate members to look into the EPA’s handling of the Odanah plant.

He cited reports showing that e-coli bacteria exceeded allowable levels – and in some cases, no reports were filed.

A federal comment period ended Monday for a proposed five-year permit extension for the Odanah treatment facility.

Earlier this year, the conservative Media Trackers’ group reported on excess e-coli and phosphorus in the Bad River’s plant. The New York Times said the plant has had 241 water pollution violations from 2004 through ’08, the most in the country.

Tribal leaders had blamed poor reporting and human error for the sewage violations, and chairman Mike Wiggins said they were in the process of being fixed. He also said the water downstream from the plant was deemed safe to drink.