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Kinston Causing Another Stink Among Environmentalists

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The broken pipe that led to the spill
KINSTON — The State Division of Water Quality is taking aim at Kinston again. Anywhere between 50 and 1,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from awaste treatment plant into the Neuse River. The exact size of the spilldepends on who you ask.

Kinston says 50 gallons spilled, and it's no big deal. The State saysit's a very big deal. The Division of Water Quality says 1,000 gallonsspilled into Adkins Branch Creek. In matters like this, the State has thefinal say.

It's Kinston's latest sewage problem. A 12" pipe burst. The State says1,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Adkins Branch, a creek that flowsthrough businesses and backyards. That has Jaleria Isler concerned.

She says there are a lot of families in the area. The creek flows rightbeside a local park as well. The whole problem is just too close tosociety.

Utilities Director Ron Wicker is in charge of Kinston's troubled sewagesystem -- a system already under criminal investigation by the SBI, and asystem that could face hefty state fines. The State says it won'ttolerate sewage spilled into the Neuse or its tributaries. The city saysit deserves tolerance.

Wicker doesn't fear the creek himself, and he says the city is notperfect. Kinston has had problems. If a sewer line breaks, it's thecity's business. A sewer line that is 50 to 100 years could be in anycity.

Sheron Marshall is angry the city has allowed raw sewage to run off intoher back yard, where her kids have to play. Marshall says if the samething had happened at her house, the authorities would have shown upimmediately ready to make her do something about it. She wants the cityto do something about the mess it has created.

For now, what the city is doing about it is monitoring the situation. Inthis case, the spill involved raw, untreated sewage -- something mostpeople would be shocked to find in their own back yards.

Problems are nothing new to Kinston's two sewage treatment plants. BeforeThursday's spill, Kinston had been cited 11 times for improper wastedisposal. The city is under investigation for failing to report fourspills. Kinston faces $80,000 in fines if the investigation turns up anycriminal activity.

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