PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) — An estimated one million gallons of raw sewage gushed out of a ruptured pipe in Palm Harbor before workers were able to stop the leak.
The sewage pipe burst on Tuesday morning. Pinellas County Utilities Director Randi Kim said on Wednesday that crews were able to stop the leak on Tuesday evening. Kim says workers are still trying to figure out what caused that pipe to fail. The pipe in question is adjacent to a pumping station located at the intersection of Alderman Road and Omaha Street in Palm Harbor.
A steady stream of pumper trucks are pumping the untreated affluent out of the area and transporting it to the nearby William Dunn Reclamation Facility. “We’ve also got a contractor on board who’s working with us,” said Kim. “He started on the project yesterday and is continuing this morning to repair the pipe.”
Kim says a valve that is supposed to vent corrosive gasses may have been malfunctioning. “What we found is holes on the top of that pipe and what we’re going to have to do is cut out a section of that pipe and replace it with new pipe.”
Gus Tsiouklis notified the county about the leak on Tuesday, when he noticed his backyard was under water. As he stepped outside, he could tell it wasn’t just water. The smell, he describes was unbearable. “Bad enough to where, if you sat outside long enough, your throat started to get scratchy,” said Tsiouklis. “Everything in the air, it was nasty.”
Tsiouklis lives on Enisgrove Drive, which is the street that backs up to the spill. Charles Whitener lives across the street. And, while his yard isn’t flooded, he is steering clear of the contaminated water. Whitener applauds how quickly the county sprung into action.
“They notified me, almost immediately by phone and I went out to take the dogs for a walk and of course I smelled it,” said Whitener. “I don’t go over there, my dogs don’t go over there and I keep them on a leash all the time. I think the county did a good job.”
Kim is hopeful work on the pipe will be completed late Wednesday, or early Thursday. In the meantime, the county is asking residents to avoid the areas that did see spillage and limit water use if at all possible. Limit use of toilets, showers, laundry, dishwashing or other optional water use so a repair can be made.
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