FBI Raids Plant

Feds take boxes from wastewater treatment facility in Terre Haute, Ind.

Wastewater treatment plants have emerged in recent years as a reliable client for motor repair businesses, but most of us never thought one would also be the site of an FBI raid.

Saddle up, because Wednesday’s “extremely random until we find out more” headlines included the feds conducting an eight-hour shakedown of the City Wastewater Treatment plant in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“At 9 o’clock this morning, the FBI executed a search warrant at the wastewater treatment plant,” Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett announced yesterday. “We have cooperated fully with them obviously. Given them full access to whatever they need.”

What they needed, apparently, was a hefty haul of white boxes, which FBI agents pulled from the plant repeatedly. Wednesday’s raid began around 9 A.M., with agents not clearing out until around 5:30 that afternoon. The Terre-Haute Tribune-Star spoke with one individual who said employees were “directed away from their work places and to the rear of the property while agents gathered what they were looking for.”

WishTV8 of Terre Haute reported that the search warrant executed by agents remains sealed. The local news outlet also offered some buttery speculation from the Twitter rumor mill and the city’s mayor. Many grumblings revolve around tax theories, as Terre Haute has invested significantly in its sewer treatment facilities in recent years. The western Indiana city—which has a population of around 60,000 including Indiana State University— embarked on a long-term plan to curtail sewer overflow in 2012. According to the Tribune-Star, the entire plan consists of five phases and comes to total of about $260 to $270 million, and isn’t expected to be completed until 2030.

“The combined sewer overflow plan is largely covered by sewer rate increases and property tax revenue. In 2012, the city approved sewage rate increases that were to be phased in over three years — 2013, 2014 and 2015, which was a 52 percent total increase. Then in 2016, the council voted to raise sewer rates again, by 21 percent, in two phases over 14 months,” the Tribune-Star reported.

Wastewater treatment plants have developed into a viable source of opportunity for repair shops willing to diversify. Besides using motors and fans, they also use centrifuges to separate clean and dirty water. These centrifuges often require maintenance that comes easily to handy motor shop workers.

Large plants will also often require emergency rewinding of motors in the 150 HP-range to be done within 48 hours for a plant if it shuts down due to, say, flooding. To avert disaster and bad press after a shutdown or flood, they sometimes need delivered to them a mix of new explosion and non-explosion proof motors within a time frame of only a few hours. Other jobs include disassembly, inspection, “wash and bake”, and assembly motor projects for these clients to help them out of crisis mode.

 

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