Local News

Kinston Causing Another Stink Among Environmentalists

Posted June 20, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The State Division of Water Quality is taking aim at Kinston again. Anywhere between 50 and 1,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from a waste treatment plant into the Neuse River. The exact size of the spill depends on who you ask.

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

It's Kinston's latest sewage problem. A 12" pipe burst. The State says 1,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Adkins Branch, a creek that flows through businesses and backyards. That has Jaleria Isler concerned.

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

Utilities Director Ron Wicker is in charge of Kinston's troubled sewage system -- a system already under criminal investigation by the SBI, and a system that could face hefty state fines. The State says it won't tolerate sewage spilled into the Neuse or its tributaries. The city says it deserves tolerance.

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

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

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

Problems are nothing new to Kinston's two sewage treatment plants. Before Thursday's spill, Kinston had been cited 11 times for improper waste disposal. The city is under investigation for failing to report four spills. Kinston faces $80,000 in fines if the investigation turns up any criminal activity.