Nyack spill sends raw sewage into Hudson River

March 9, 2009 at 3:26 am Leave a comment

Half a million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Hudson River yesterday after a sewer main burst.

The pipe broke about 5 a.m. and sent sewage into the river and onto a parking lot at 11 Burd St., Orangetown police said.

The pressurized pipe was between the river and the Orangetown Sewer Department’s pump house near the corner of Spear and Burd streets.

The pipe transports sewage from the pump house to the town’s treatment plant in Orangeburg, said Ron Delo, director of Orangetown’s Environmental Management and Engineering Department.

The pipe broke just outside the pump house, and the sewage was transported into the river via an overflow pipe that empties into the Hudson, he said.

Orangetown Supervisor Thom Kleiner said the pump station was in the process of being upgraded.

“We were almost to the point of completion,” Kleiner said. “While it’s unfortunate, it’s also a reminder of why this work is so important.”

The town reported the spill to the Rockland County Health Department and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said Thomas Micelli, the county’s director of environmental health.

Neither agency issued a violation for the incident.

“This is an operational difficulty,” Micelli said. “There is nothing they did wrong to cause it.”

Micelli estimated that about 550,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the river and onto the parking lot during the incident, which lasted from 5 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.

The pump house treats about 1.2 million gallons per day, he said.

He said that in terms of the size of the spill, the “bulk amount is large.”

“But we look at the effect as to how it impacts the receiving waters,” Micelli said.

If the 550,000 gallons had spilled into a small stream, there could have been significant and lasting damage, he said, because there was less water to dilute the sewage.

Because the sewage ended up in the Hudson, it was more easily diluted, and as a result, “It’s unlikely there will be any lasting damage,” Micelli said.

He said the timing of the spill during colder weather also played a role, with the potential impacts to human health less threatening than during warmer weather when boaters and others were interacting with the Hudson.

Crews cleaned up the mess, including sanitizing the ground, Micelli said.

Delo said the pump house renovation was expected to be completed in about two months.

It includes new pumps, motors, controls and piping; will be more energy efficient; and have more capacity, he said.

By Laura Incalcaterra

LoHud.com

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Entry filed under: Dive In, Natural Waterfront, Region. Tags: , , .

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