SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) _ An environmental service company says about 150,000 gallons of untreated wastewater has discharged into the Naugatuck River in Seymour from a broken manhole.
The spill has been stopped as crews make repairs, a spokesman for Veolia Environnement North America said Friday.
Emergency responders from Veolia arrived on the scene at 1 p.m. Wednesday and found the manhole structure had partly collapsed, sending debris to the bottom of the manhole and blocking the flow of untreated wastewater to the Seymour Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The manhole provides access to an underground pipe that carries wastewater underneath the Naugatuck River. The treatment plant has not been affected and continues to treat wastewater.
The Naugatuck River extends 40 miles from Torrington to Derby.
Seymour resident Steve Cherhoniak, a retired operator at the Seymour Water Pollution Control Authority, said he noticed the breach Wednesday. He saw a hole in a manhole connected to the siphon that carries sewage underneath the river.
“Sewage was just gushing into the river,” he told the Republican-American.
Veolia does not manage the collection system, but is under contract to provide emergency services. The company said it’s coordinating its emergency response with the town of Seymour and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Margaret Miner, executive director of the advocacy group Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, said the sewage is toxic and could harm the river.
She said it could be filled with pathogens, viruses, toxins, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. She said it is toxic to aquatic life, though fish can usually swim away. And, nutrients can cause algae to grow at rapid rates, creating dead zones along the river, she said.
“You worry about pathogens and nutrients that can be harmful to health,” Miner told the Republican-American. “You wouldn’t want to go near there. …It’s generally a disgusting situation that is not good for human life, not good for the river and I hope they get it cleaned soon because the Naugatuck River has made a remarkable turnaround and this will hurt it.”
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