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tears in the river

puppy puppy at wave-net.net
Fri Aug 22 19:33:11 EST 1997

Susan Hogarth wrote:
> puppy wrote:
> >... At 2pm I called the state back and found that the town of Garner had
> > called in at 12:30pm to report a ruptured 16-inch forced main that
> > eventually spilled more than a million gallons of raw sewage into a
> > nearby creek that followed a tributary over to Swift Creek(my creek),
> > which in turn empties into the horribly troubled Neuse River.
> >
> > I went back to the creek bank and tried to rescue the struggling fish
> > but to no avail. I just sat on the bank and cried.
> You certainly have my sympathy, as I also live in North Carolina.
> But I'm not so sure what you mean by this...
> > My job is not just a
> > job, it's a responsibility.  I work so hard to protect that creek and
> > some big plant with no alarm back up to notify anyone of a problem,
> > destroys it all. God help us all.
> Is it common practice for large sewage plants to have "alarm back ups"?
> What would have notification of you have been able to accomplish - could
> you have saved your fish? (Really, I'm just curious).
> Since we live in an industrial society, we do have problems with wastes,
> and a certain number of failures are to be expected. While North
> Carolina has certainly had more than its share of failures lately, we
> have to recognize that we have problems to solve - not blame to spread.
> It is possible that there is criminal negligence, of course. But not
> every sewage spill is a result of Corporate Greed in Action.
> I could make a bad joke here about "shit happens", but I won't...
> Reallu, though - I do sympathise; it's just that I'm not sure who (if
> anyone) you are blaming...
> --
> Susan
> "We have politics.  We just haven't offended each other with it yet.
> Religion works just fine." --oTTo--
> http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/s/sjhogart/public/home.htm

I'm not blaming anyone for the spill it's self.  It's more of a
disappointment in the handling of the situation.  There was no attempt
to prevent the continued flow of raw sewage into the creeks while the
dig went on to reach the break.  While finding the pipe is important,
there should also have been a damming effort going on rather than
allowing the sewage to continue flowing into the creeks at a rate of @
20 gpm.
As far as the alarm system goes, there are ways to monitor systems and
send out a warning when something goes wrong.  Apparently the plant the
sewage was headed to is not staffed 24hrs a day but does have some sort
of computer monitoring for flow.  The system could be equipped to
monitor the flow and when it dropps to a specified rate, could begin
dialing numbers or pagers to alert someone of a problem.  In this spill,
no one knew when the flow to the plant dropped off, indicating a
I work in package plants and all are equipped with some kind of alarm
system to alert if a problem occurs.  While most of my plants process
60,000 or less gallons per day, it would be unadvisable to have a spill
that would not be discovered for 24hrs.
As for my comments at the end, those were my emotions showing.  The
creeks and rivers I discharge into depend upon me to monitor what goes
in and that it is properly treated.  I could just do my job and not care
but I don't.  I feel that I am responsible for what happens to the
waterways I use.  Guess I'm just a bit emotional. I take great pride in
my work and nothing makes me happier to walk down to the stream or creek
and watch the fish swimming by.
My greatest hope is that there is some lesson(s) learned from this. 
While we may not be able to prevent all spills, we can respond quicker
and manage them better.

Tina Ober, BS Biology
NC Grade III WWTP operator
"There is no such thing as a perfectly good airplane."

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