Local News

Some Garner Families Inconvenienced by Leaking Sewage

Posted June 25, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Clean-up crews in Wake County spent a good portion of Friday working in the heat and the awful smell of a sewage spill. They were trying to keep it out of Swift Creek and the Neuse River.

About 250,000 gallons of raw sewage seeped from a cracked pipe Wednesday, but it wasn't discovered until Thursday.

The line that cracked was buried about five feet deep. Someone dumped logs on top of it, and investigators think the pipe cracked in two places because of the pressure. Crews have finished pumping out the sewage, but the spill could have long-lasting effects. Tests show there is contamination in some local waterways.

The cracked pipe leaked more 200 thousand gallons of untreated sewage. Crews worked all night and into Friday morning to pump out the wastewater and haul it to a city treatment plant. The spill didn't affect the water supply of most Garner residents, but about 40 families who live nearby have been told to boil their water until Monday.

That makes things tough for the O'Neals who have four young children.

"They have to be bathed, we have to cook for them and look after them. As it is, we're having to eat sandwiches so we don't have to cook," said Elsie O'Neal.

Environmental experts are testing the groundwater around mobile homes near the spill site. The residents are on septic tanks, and their water line was accidentally cut while crews repaired the sewer pipe.

"Sewage getting into a drinking water supply is the problem, that's the problem, the contamination that could be transferred from the sewer line into the water line," said

Last August, 500,000 gallons of sewage burst from the same pipe just 150 yards away. Town managers say the two spills are just a coincidence.

"I don't know how you prevent it. The line's five feet in the ground over here and it's a mile and a half long. I don't know how you ascertain whether it's got a fracture in it," said Allen Hardy, who was testing water for N.C. public water supply.

We do know that 20,000 gallons of sewage got into Mahler's Creek, which feeds into Swift Creek and the Neuse River. Tests show contamination where the two join. Environmentalists say the oxygen level there is very low, but they did not see any dead fish today.