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Raw sewage spills into Potomac River

August 20, 1998

HANCOCK - Hancock accidentally dumped 146,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River after problems at one of the town's old pumping stations on Main Street, Town Manager Louis Close said Wednesday.

Close said the problem started Monday when the windings on a motor shorted out, tripping circuit breakers at the station.

The emergency generator could not be used, and sewage overran the holding tanks and spilled into a stream in an area called Ice Hollow. That stream feeds into the Potomac, Close said.

"It happens frequently here," Close said of the spill. He said he didn't consider the amount dumped a very large amount.

"It was raining Monday, so it was pretty diluted by the time it got to the river," he said.

Close said the Washington County Water and Sewer Department was notified after the spill at 10:30 a.m. Monday, and sent crews to fix the problem.

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He said after county crews arrived in Hancock, it took them 10 hours to repair the motor and replace the pumps at the station. He said the station was back on line at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Close said officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) were notified of the spill by phone. He said the town was in the process of filing a written report of explanation to the state.

The MDE official familiar with the incident could not be reached.

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