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Kinston Sewage Plant Blamed for Neuse River Pollution

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Kinston Sewage Treatment Plant
KINSTON — Environmental watch groups are calling for a criminal investigation into araw human sewage spill. Millions of gallons of the waste may have flowedinto the Neuse River in Kinston.

The environmentalists involved say they're certain raw sewage floweddirectly into the Neuse River. They say one of the sources of the spillis Kinston's north side sewage treatment plant. The city says that sewagenever made it to the river and there has been no violation. One thing iscertain to this point, however, Kinston is going to have to get out it'scheckbook.

Kinston admits it. There were at least four spills at the city's twosewage treatment plants. The city says a mechanical failure in theplant's grit removal systems spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons ofraw sewage.

Kinston Utilities Manager Ron Wicker says the incidents were neverreported to the state because the city misinterpreted its permit. Kinstoncleaned up the spill, and Wicker says he is certain none of the sewageever made it to the Neuse River.

Environmentalists from the Neuse River Foundation say they don't believeit. They say the plants are so close to the water, the sewage had nowhere else to go but in the river.

Rick Dove is with the Neuse River Foundation. He is angered by theincident. Dove says Kinston can not be allowed to get away with the spillwithout really doing something about it.

The state is doing something about it. They say it's not a matter ofwhether Kinston is in violation. It's now a matter of how much the citywill have to pay. Wicker says the plant never acted with criminal intent.He's gotten no indication from the state, it thinks otherwise.

Dove says there's a point to be made. He believes it was Kinston's dutyto report the spill, and there was a violation of that duty. In Dove'sopinion, that negligence itself warrants criminal investigation.

Mark Roberts reporting

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