Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sewage Leak

The Blue Plains sewage treatment plant in far southeast DC released 17 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Potomac River overnight on Saturday. The release was due to a power failure at the plant. Apparently both the main generators failed, while the backups were out of service for maintenance.

An EPA spokesperson got out right away to claim that any damage from the release would be minimal because sewage also leaks during major rainstorms. However, I have to wonder about the EPA's credibility at this point. We saw similar reactions after 9/11 and Katrina. Someone makes assurances to the public that everything is safe before any testing is done. Then a few months later we find out that the disaster released major toxins.

In this case, release of sewage has been a continuing problem along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers because the Districts sewers and storm drains use the same lines. This release is in a particularly concentrated form, which may result in fish kills.