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Oxford, State Officials Look for Cause of Continued Sewage Spills

Posted November 21, 2006

WRAL News
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— In September, a new $10 million waste treatment facility went online, intended to stop leaks in the sewage system. But a month afterward, there was another major spill, and now the plant must answer to state officials.

Oxford's new wastewater treatment plant came online in September with claims there would be no more sewage spills. But in early November, the unthinkable happened when heavy rains over-ran the plant's capacity, spilling 125,000 gallons of untreated sewage into nearby creeks.

"Anything that you dump in the creek is bad, but it's a modest spill," said Oxford Public Works Director Larry Thomas.

State investigators and Oxford officials seem to agree that the huge volume of water may not be the fault of the new plant.

"What that tells us is that somewhere there's inflow coming into the line, and what I mean by that is that it is overrunning the normal flow of the line," said State Division of Water Quality spokeswoman Susan Massengale.

Oxford Mayor Al Woodleaf said he believes infiltration is entering pipes in the town that are more than 100 years old. That means big leaks to fix

"I think we have found where possibly a million or so gallons are coming from," Woodleaf said.

Another explanation for the sewage spill is that one of three tanks used to remove solid matter was shut down for service. The state continues to investigate the latest spill and Oxford's attempt to blame the drainpipes for the overflow
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