SC: 250,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Saturday, June 10, 2000

50,000 toilet flushes' worth of sewage spills in Simpsonville By Bob Montgomery ENVIRONMENTAL WRITER

About 250,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled onto the grounds of the Lower Reedy Sewage Treatment Plant west of Simpsonville when a circuit breaker broke down Thursday night, officials said Friday.

That's equivalent to 50,000 toilet flushes.

Some of the sewage seeped into the nearby Reedy River, but most was contained on the ground near the plant and was cleaned up by late Friday morning, said Ray Orvin, executive director of the Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority.

There was no apparent damage to wildlife and no damage to the Reedy River, according to Thom Berry, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Control.

"It was a minor event," Berry said. "They worked on it very quickly once they realized what the problem was. We didn't see evidence of anything in the river or in the creek adjacent to the plant."

State and Western Carolina officials said no neighbors complained of odors.

Berry said DHEC collected water samples from the river and found no evidence of pollution from the spill. Additional samples were collected Friday afternoon.

Orvin said samples will be tested for fecal coliform, and those results should be known today.

Orvin said the circuit breaker was installed recently as part of the expansion of the treatment plant on South Harrison Bridge Road. The plant recently faced a moratorium on new sewer hookups because of ongoing flow and pollution problems. The expansion is designed to correct those problems.

Orvin said Thursday's incident occurred when the circuit breaker that operates the pump at the sewage intake well malfunctioned. The sewage backed up and rose through the well's cover, spreading over a field and toward the Reedy River.

It was discovered by plant operator Don Milner, who was making a routine hourly check of the circuit breaker at 6 p.m. Thursday. Sewage continued to spill until the circuit breaker electrical lines were temporarily connected to another breaker shortly before 11 p.m.

Orvin said most of the sewage was contained on-site by silt fences.

Workers spread lime over the sewage to control the odor. Using a front-loader, the sewage was dumped into a nearby lagoon by late Friday morning, Orvin said. From there, it will be put back into the system for treatment, Milner said. A new circuit breaker was installed Friday.

Orvin said Western Carolina staff met Friday afternoon to discuss ways to prevent a similar spill. "It's just disappointing we had it and had it there," Orvin said. Bob Montgomery can be reached at 298-4295.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 10, 2000

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