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Whitco

Sewage spill hits wetlands


August 29, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Sewage from a broken pipe on Main Street breached a small area of wetlands Thursday, but officials say a rapid response to the break prevented any damage to the area.

A sewer main below the Route 131 section of Main Street, near the Hampton Inn, was inadvertently punctured by a work crew installing a Verizon utility pole around 10 a.m. Thursday, according to Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski.

Police personnel, adjourning from a Local Emergency Planning Committee exercise at the Public Safety Complex around the same time closed Route 131 to traffic as wastewater pooled beneath the Interstate 84 overpass.

Veolia Water officials were on site and flow to the pipe cut off by 10:30. The road remained closed until approximately 1:30 p.m. Wastewater was diverted to Southbridge for treatment until 6:30 p.m. when repairs to the pipe were complete, according to Suhoski.

Sturbridge Health Agent Alyssa Rusiecki said there was no danger to residents resulting from the spill.

"In no way was any of the public water supply compromised," Rusiecki said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection visited the site Thursday with Conservation Agent Erin Jacque to assess any impact the spill had on a wetland area behind the Hampton Inn.

Jacque could not be reached for comment Friday, but Conservation Commission Chairman David Barnicle said the situation was under control quickly and will have minimal, if any, effect on the wetland.

Barnicle said an emergency consent order was issued immediately following the rupture in the pipe to allow silt and erosion control barriers — hay bales — to be placed around the wetland area.

"We think that the barriers are going to be sufficient to protect it," Barnicle said.

Barnicle said the bales were the best bet since a silt fence would have required digging into the ground for stabilization, thus disturbing the land even more.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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