Local News

Oxford Joins List of Sewage Swamped Cities

Posted August 19, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The test results are not good for a Granville County creek stained by a massive sewage spill. More than a million gallons of waste seeped from a pump station in Oxford. What's more alarming is that the spill was going on for at least three days.

What looks like an untouched, tranquil spot is anything but that. One-point-two million gallons of raw sewage flowed into Coons Creek over the weekend. It all started Friday evening at an Oxford lift station. Crews flipped on an automatic pump system, then went home for the weekend. The automatic system never turned on.

Oxford Utilities Director Jesse Sullins says there is an alarm in the station, but no one was close enough by the hear it. There is no law forcing the station to maintain an alarm, but Sullins says the state has been told Oxford will install a system that calls the police automatically in a high water situation.

The sewage that backed up and overflowed killed hundreds of fish in tributaries that flow into the Tar River. Local authorities are trying to pump oxygen back into the creeks. The State Division of Water Quality is testing the water. They don't want one point to be cloudy.

Water quality inspector Danny Smith says it's clear the spill was a big one that involved a lot of waste water.

Durham, Durham County, Garner, and Oxford have all fallen victim to municipal sewage spills lately. There's no central reason for it. There's not a common thread to it. Everyone says it's just a case of bad luck. Inspectors will continue to examine this year's numbers to see how they compare to years gone by.

Kinston is the only city fined so far for its spills. More fines are expected as the investigation into each individual sewage spill continues.