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Sewage Spill Along the Naugatuck River Is Contained

Steve Cherhoniak

A leak at a water treatment plant that spilled thousands of gallons of raw sewage in the Naugatuck River has been contained. The leak started Wednesday at Veolia Environment North America, a wastewater treatment plant in Seymour. 

A manhole structure at the plant broke open, spilling 100 to 200 gallons of raw sewage a minute into the Naugatuck River. Emergency crews from the town of Seymour and from Veolia have been working since Wednesday to contain the spill and fix the damaged structure.

Veolia believes about 150,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed into the river before the spill was finally contained.

"That is a considerable amount," said Margaret Miner, executive director for the advocacy group Rivers Alliance of Connecticut. She said the sewage will have an impact on the river and Long Island Sound. "One of the first things to be wary of is pathogens -- that is, bacteria and viruses," she said. "Another problem is you have that heavy load of nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorous entering the river, and even at this time of year, it may contribute to algae blooms."

Kevin Zak of the Naugutuck River Revival Group said the abundance of wildlife in and along the river are at risk because of the spill. "I've watched eagles bathe," Zak said. "I've watched osprey diving and catching fish. I've witnessed mink on the Naugatuck River. So this spill is devastating, no question about it." 

Miner said the cold weather helped to mitigate the effect of the sewage spill on human health. She believes if the spill had occurred in the summer months, it may have posed a significant public health risk.

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