Raccoon Leads to Cascading Sewage Spill

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 01:03 PM gHale

A raccoon caused a power outage which hit a sewer lift station that did not have a power back up and allowed over 60,000 gallons of raw sewage to flow into a nearby river, officials said.

City of St. Augustine, FL, crews responded to the power outage at a sanitary sewer lift station Saturday morning. That outage led to a 60,750-gallon spill of raw sewage into the San Sebastian River.

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Not all of the city’s more than 70 pump stations have stand-by generation, but some do, said Public Works Director Martha Graham. “This was not one of them.”

Temporary power ended up quickly restored by city crews and repaired later by Florida Power & Light.

A raccoon triggered the outage by shorting out the station’s power at 10 p.m. on Friday.

When the city crews arrived at the scene, they conducted a survey to determine where a spill may have occurred.

That survey identified a manhole, which was overflowing into the San Sebastian River. The survey also found the sewage was not recoverable.

Graham said they fixed the problem that created the spill and crews will continue to sample the waterway.

Following protocol, the city has reported the spill to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“We’re waiting to see what they say,” she said, adding the DEP may or may not do an inspection depending on its criteria. “(City crews) will monitor until samples are at a level well enough that we can stop sampling,” she said.

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