Marin sewage spill worse than expected

December 24, 2010 6:09:16 PM PST
It turns out much more raw sewage spilled in Marin County during five days of storms this week than anyone initially imagined. The total is nearing three million gallons now and workers are racing to repair one of the pipes before the next storm hits and even more sewage pours into the creek.

There is now confirmation that Wednesday's sewage spill sent close to 2 million gallons of raw sewage into San Anselmo Creek. People who live next to the creek say they did not know a nearby sewer line failed until they literally walked into the sewage.

Rosalie Burt found out about Wednesday's sewage spill the hard way.

"I was walking my dog and it was dark there is a big pot hole there and I fell and I swear to goodness all my clothes got dirty," she said.

Burt, who lives next to San Anselmo Creek in Ross, fell into some of the nearly 2 million gallons of raw sewage that flowed out of an old sewage line. It spilled into Burt's neighborhood as well as nearby Bowdich Junior High School, flooding the track.

"That spill was approximately 1.8 million gallons and we cleaned up a little over 300,000 gallons," Ross Valley Sanitary District General Manager Brett Richards said.

Richards blames Wednesdays spill on a more than 30-year-old fiberglass sewer pipe that failed. Workers were feverishly installing a replacement pipe Friday before weekend rains hit the area.

Last Friday and Saturday, another 840,000 gallon spill is being blamed on construction debris that Richards says clogged the line. Richards fell short of actually blaming the debris on the construction company that worked on the line.

"The rags were in there, we had large pieces of drive, black asphalt drive, I mean big chunks," he said.

But inside sources place the blame on the district for turning off a pumping station just before storm water filled the pipes.

Today JMB Construction of South San Francisco issued a statement saying, "Our firm is deeply committed to public safety and environmental responsibility and the new lines installed by our firm were cleaned and video inspected prior to being placed in service in August of 2010."

Richards says the work on the new line will be finished by late Friday night.


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