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East Wenatchee reports sewage spill into Columbia River

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East Wenatchee reports sewage spill into Columbia River

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March 28, 2012

(East Wenatchee, WA)  A failure at the East Wenatchee wastewater treatment plant resulted in a spill of an estimated 500,000 gallons of sewage to the Columbia River overnight Sunday, March 25, 2012, the city reported to the Washington Department of Ecology on Monday.

The overflow from the plant was discovered when the operator arrived at the start of business on Monday. An automatic sensor designed to activate a pump failed, causing the spill. In addition, an automatic dialing feature designed to trigger an emergency alert was not triggered.

The spill was halted on Monday, and the plant is back to normal operation. Ecology is working with East Wenatchee to identify the cause of the spill and to prevent further releases from the plant.

Meanwhile, Ecology is also tracking a raw sewage spill from a broken sewer line in Trail, British Columbia, that is flowing into the Columbia River and into Washington state. Canadian officials estimate that up to 1.5 million gallons (or 6 million liters) will ultimately be spilled into the river by the time repairs can be made.

Washington Department of Ecology, Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and the Northeast Tri-County Health District in Colville are monitoring the response progress, along with emergency response staff from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment. The Columbia River enters Washington state and Stevens County approximately six miles north of the community of Northport.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Environment, a coupler came apart on a 12-inch sewage pipe underneath a decommissioned bridge near Trail. Raw sewage has been flowing into the river since 5 p.m. Monday, March 26.

The Northeast Tri-County Health District warns citizens to stay away from the river as much as possible until the sewage has finished running down the river.

The B.C. Ministry of the Environment says that special scaffolding needs to be constructed under the bridge in order to make the repairs today by 3 p.m.

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