October 30, 2012

CT plants discharged sewage into Sound during Sandy

Millions of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage spilled into Long Island Sound and other Connecticut waterways during flooding and power outages caused by superstorm Sandy, The Associated Press reports.

The state Department of Public Health urged people to stay away from floodwaters because they may be contaminated by sewer system discharges or sewage backups on private properties. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the discharges weren't expected harm the environment.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch urged residents Monday night to avoid flushing toilets, taking showers and washing dishes because the treatment plants were flooded. He said he wasn't expecting any contamination problems, adding that discharges of untreated sewage happen from time to time during heavy rains.

Discharges of untreated or partially treated sewage into waterways were reported in Branford, Bridgeport, East Lyme, Fairfield, Greenwich, Ledyard, New Hartford and New Haven, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Twenty-seven of the 89 treatment plants in the state and 264 sewage pumping stations were running on backup generators Tuesday, officials said.

In Bridgeport, 15 million to 20 million gallons of partially treated sewage went into Long Island Sound during the brunt of the storm Monday when the city's two treatment plants were inundated by tidal surges, said Ted Grabarz, chairman of the city's Water Pollution Control Authority and director of public facilities.

In Ledyard, a backup generator on the town's treatment plant failed after the power went out during the storm, leading to a system backup and forcing officials to pump about 60,000 gallons of raw sewage into Seth Williams Brook, said Stephen Banks, supervisor of the town's Water Pollution Control Authority. Workers fixed the generator and no major problems were reported.

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