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Sewage escapes from Berkeley County plant

May 18, 2001

Sewage escapes from Berkeley County plant



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


Thousands of gallons of partially-treated sewage escaped last week from a sewage treatment plant that serves the Spring Mills subdivision in the northern part of Berkeley County, according to a state environmental official.

The sludge accumulated in a "backwater area" along Opequon Creek, but it did not enter the creek, said Kevin Lilly, a local inspector for the Division of Environmental Protection.

Although Lilly said he does not know how much sewage sludge escaped from the plant, about 12,000 gallons had been pumped from the area along the creek as of Wednesday afternoon, Lilly said.

Lilly estimates that represented about two-thirds of the amount present.

Officials with the sewer plant, which is operated by the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District, hired private septic tank cleaning companies to remove the sludge, Lilly said.

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The sludge escaped due to a hydraulic malfunction at the plant, Lilly said.

"They had a problem and they fixed it. The plant is running fine now," said Lilly, adding that no citations were issued.

A local resident, however, believes the matter could have been handled better.

Mike Folk said he believes state or county officials should have notified the public that the spill occurred. Folk said he believes some of the sludge reached Opequon Creek and he was concerned about safety of anyone who might have been fishing in the creek at the time.

"He can paint it as rosy as he wants. Some got away, there's no doubt about it," said Folk.

Sewer plant officials could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

The plant is about 1 1/2 miles east of Bedington Crossroads on U.S. 11 North, Folk said.

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