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City Investigating Empty Containers Missing from Monroe Water Treatment Plant

September 15, 2016

For more information, please contact:
Mary Catherine Carmichael, Communications Director, 812-219-2679,

City Investigating Empty Containers Missing from Monroe Water Treatment Plant

Bloomington, Ind. - A supervisor reviewing processes last week discovered empty containers missing from the Monroe Water Treatment Plant (MWTP). These containers should have been declared surplus and dispensed according to City policy. The City is investigating the approximately 166 food-grade chemical containers found missing from the MWTP.

The 268-gallon plastic containers with a metal cage-style framework were periodically delivered to the MWTP containing polymer used in the water treatment process. The containers were included in the purchase of the chemical from supplier Brenntag AG, just as an egg carton is included with the purchase of a dozen eggs.

The estimated value of the missing containers is between $8,300 and $12,500 on the salvage market.

Purchases of the polymer in the containers go back at least 10 years, according to MWTP records.

The loss is still under investigation by the Bloomington Police Department Detective Division. An MWTP employee has admitted to taking the empty containers for personal use or to sell. Effective immediately, Plant Service Mechanic Barry Milbourn has been terminated. Plant Superintendent Tim Gholson has resigned his position.

"Tim Gholson has worked hard to successfully turn our water quality around, but as the individual in charge of plant operations while some of this activity was taking place, he has assumed responsibility and resigned his position," commented Utilities Director Vic Kelson.

"The items involved were no longer of specific use to the City, but because they were owned by the City and had value, removing them without following proper procedures is unacceptable. We have specific policies regarding the disposal or return of surplus property that were not followed in this instance. This is an unfortunate situation that has been dealt with according to City policy."

"Vic and his team at Utilities are doing a great job improving our water quality and the treatment processes at the Monroe Plant. This is one of those situations that all concerned wish had transpired differently, I'm sure," said Mayor John Hamilton.

Both employee's job duties will be handled by cross-trained Utility employees in the short term.

No decrease in water quality is anticipated.

Results from the BPD investigation, when completed, will be turned over to the Prosecutor's Office as is required by law.

The State Board of Accounts has also been notified.