KY - 200,000 Gallons of Sewage Spill Near Hamburg Place : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Published Thursday, April 13, 2000, in the Herald-Leader

Title: 200,000 Gallons of Sewage Spill Near Hamburg Place North Elkhorn Creek Waters Test OK; Workers Seal Break


A sewer line break that leaked more than 200,000 gallons of sewage into an undeveloped part of Hamburg Place including a dry stream bed that drains into North Elkhorn Creek was sealed yesterday, two days after the 22-year-old pipe ruptured.

A rock pierced the 24-inch diameter plastic pipe, which lies eight feet underground and is west of the Hamburg Place stores, said Jeff Wilson, Lexington's public works commissioner.

The leak didn't affect sewer service, Wilson said, and as of yesterday tests of water in North Elkhorn Creek didn't show any major contamination.

City officials learned of the leak Monday afternoon, Wilson said, and work crews spent that night, Tuesday and yesterday trying to patch the hole. ``We've been working on it pretty much night and day,'' he said.

About 5:30 p.m. yesterday, Wilson heard from workers who had restarted a sewage pump after placing a 5-foot-long rubber and steel clamp around the damaged section. ``It's holding?'' he asked. ``Cool.''

Sewage spewed from the 18-inch gash for more than two days at Hamburg Place, a former horse farm that has become one of Lexington's fastest developing areas and busiest retail districts. Construction workers at The Shetlands, a new subdivision, noticed a foul odor Monday afternoon and found the ground northwest of Star Shoot Parkway soaked with sewage; city work crews arrived about 4 p.m., Wilson said.

After excavating the area, city workers tried to close the break with two 15-inch clamps Monday night, Wilson said, and again Tuesday with a 30-inch clamp. When those attempts failed, city officials called a South Carolina-based response team affiliated with the pipe's manufacturer; that team is expected to replace the city's temporary clamp with a permanent seal today.

Meanwhile, city workers continue to collect water samples from North Elkhorn Creek to monitor potential contamination. The sewage ran off into a dry stream bed, Wilson said, but early tests indicated no major impact to North Elkhorn. The stream bed runs about two miles to the creek, which is on the other side of Interstate 75.

The same sewer line suffered a similar puncture two years ago, but Wilson said the two breaks weren't due to the pipe's age, but rather its proximity to a hard layer of limestone. The 11/2-inch-thick pipe lays next to the limestone, he said, and vibrations from sewer pump operation can cause damaging friction between the pipe and rock.

The damaged sewer main serves Hamburg Place and Winchester Road near Interstate 75, he said an area with more hotels, stores and restaurants than homes and major industries. But none of those business suffered any loss of service, Wilson said.

``Although we had a leaky line,'' he said, ``we had been pumping.''


-- (, April 13, 2000

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