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Potomac River sewage spill wasn't first at Hancock

August 20, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

HANCOCK - A spill of 146,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River wasn't the first in Hancock, and a Maryland Department of Environment official said Thursday the town could face penalties.

Bill Limbert, Maryland Department of the Environment water management district manager in charge of compliance, said while that amount spilled might not seem like much, it poses a potential hazard to humans and the environment.

He said there have been several other spills connected with the sewage collection system in Hancock in the past couple years.

"We'll be talking to our enforcement division about that," he said.

Limbert said if the enforcement division decided to penalize the town for repeated violations of its permit, Hancock could be fined or asked to sign a consent order to fix the system.

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"The thing that bothers me is that they had one pump that wasn't operational for several months," Limbert said.

Hancock accidentally dumped the raw sewage after problems at one of the town's old pumping stations on Main Street, Town Manager Louis Close said Wednesday.

Close said the spill occurred after mechanical problems at the Rescue Squad Pumping Station.

The problems were corrected by Washington County water and sewer department crews and the system began working again at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, he said.

Limbert said one of the two pumps at the station had been down for repairs for several months. On Monday the second failed.

Sewage overran the holding tanks and spilled into a stream that feeds into the Potomac River, Limbert said.

Close said sewage spills "happen frequently" in Hancock. He said he didn't consider the amount dumped a very large amount.

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