Sunday September 23, 2012

LEE -- Berkshire Enviro-Labs’ water-testing certification has been revoked by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Last month, an analyst within the lab submitted a falsified record of dates that he inspected a piece of equipment, causing the lab to lose its certification to test its clients’ water.

The Lee company has a verbal agreement with Premier Laboratory Inc., based in Dayville, Conn., to handle its test loads. According to Berkshire Enviro-Labs director William Enser Jr., Premier will be subcontracted to receive all of Berkshire Enviro-Labs’ samples for testing at the Connecticut facility.

The partnership would allow Berkshire Enviro-Labs to continue operations as usual.

"They’re still [Enser Jr.’s] customers, we’re just doing the testing," said Ron Warila, the general manager for Premier Laboratory Inc. "The intention for both facilities is to keep things as smooth as possible."

Berkshire Enviro-Labs has operated without incident for about 30 years, and is the only lab in the Berkshires that tests the local drinking and wastewater. The next closest testing facility is in Westfield.

Massachusetts routinely inspected the lab every three years, this being the only issue they’ve encountered, but one was big enough to result in the lab losing its water-testing certification.

"Dates were adjusted. I should have known it, but I didn’t," said Enser, the lab’s director. "I didn’t want to sit and argue who did what. I just wanted to keep an even keel and even temper."

The rest of the DEP inspection saw no other discrepancies.

"We’ll continue to provide full service to operators as well as collection services, we just won’t be doing the testing," Enser said.

He said that prices for clients will not change, except for clients that have been provided more discounts for transporting their own samples to be tested, which will increase very slightly.

A longtime partner with Berkshire Enviro-Labs, Williamstown Water and Sewer Superintendent Ed Rondeau said he was "surprised, for sure" of the incident that led to Berkshire Enviro-Labs losing their certification. However, they will continue to work with them after their agreement with Premier Laboratories.

"We would have had to find another water testing facility, and the next closest one is Westfield," Rondeau said. "That would have been more time, more money, and more inconvenience."

To reach Adam Poulisse:
apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse