Sewer spill is cause for warning

March 22, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Washington County health officials have warned users of Hamilton Run against fishing and any recreational activity on the stream as a result of a Sunday sewage spill.

The spill of 25,000 gallons of raw, untreated sewage appears to be the result of vandalism, Hagerstown Water and Sewer Department Manager David Shindle said Monday.

Shindle said it appears the spill lasted about 45 minutes, and likely will cost the city $750 in fines.

The spill occurred on a construction site where a contractor for the city is working to replace a sewage pipe, Shindle said. Department operators were notified of a problem at 9:13 p.m. Sunday, and the spill was stopped about 30 minutes later, he said.

The contractor must reroute the sewage around the pipe they are replacing, and to do that, the company is using two pumps, Shindle said. It appeared that one pump's fuel had been removed, and levers needed to control the second pump had been removed.


Shindle said the contractor has put up more fencing, but "when you're dealing with vandalism, if somebody wants to do something, it's tough to stop them."

Shindle said he did not think it would cause the Maryland Department of Environment to take any further action beyond the fine.

Shindle's department is under scrutiny by state environment officials because of recent spills of wastewater. City officials have responded by budgeting millions of dollars in upgrades to the sewer system.

According to a release from the Washington County Health Department, water contact, swimming and fishing should be avoided for up to two weeks on Hamilton Run to the point where it connects with Antietam Creek.

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