Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sewage Spill in Narragansett Bay

More than a million and a half gallons of raw sewage spilled into Narragansett Bay the other day, and the spill was a textbook case of what can go wrong and why big sewage plants can be so dangerous. The only thing that didn’t go wrong was that no one spilled Pepsi on the control board:

The troubles at the Bay Commission's Bucklin Point plant began with a power failure at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The lack of power prevented pumps in the northern diversion structure, just outside the plant, from pumping sewage into the plant. Instead, it overflowed into the Seekonk River.

Generators should have switched on to power the pumps. But Bay Commission spokeswoman Jamie Samons said a computer device called a programmable logic control failed to trigger the generator.

When staff at the plant attempted a manual override, the device blocked them, Samons said. Finally, after an hour and a half, power was restored by Narragansett Electric.

The Providence Journal had the story


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