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Sewer Spill on Bradley Creek

Workers inspect sewer pipes near the site of Wednesday's spills.
Workers inspect sewer pipes near the site of Wednesday's spills.

By Megan V. Williams

Wilmington, NC – Equipment troubles during sewer repair work led to roughly 12,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilling into Bradley Creek Wednesday, and caused the county to issue a no-contact advisory for creek waters from Wrightsville Avenue to the Intracoastal Waterway.

New Hanover County spokesperson Mark Boyer says three times in the past two days, the couplings on temporary lines diverting sewage along Wrightsville Green Avenue have become disconnected, releasing waste.

The first spill came late Tuesday, according to Boyer, when a temporary hose became disconnected from a pump, spilling around a thousand gallons into the front yards of three houses on Wrightsville Green Avenue. Crews were on-hand and, according to Boyer, "were able to build an earthen dam around it and contain all of that, vacuum it up, and then lime the front yards to kill any bacteria."

A second, smaller spill released a hundred gallons of wastewater directly into Bradley Creek early Wednesday. Boyer says after the first two spills, crews were checking hose couplings every five minutes.

However, around noon Wednesday, a line again became disconnected. When crews returned minutes later, an estimated 12,000 gallons of sewage had spilled into the creek.

New Hanover County has alerted the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the spills.

Boyer said it's too soon to judge whether liability for this series of spills will fall on the county or the contractor.

"The project itself has been shut down," Boyer announced after the third spill. "The bypass pumping has been shut down until all of the engineers can get together, figure out what caused these three disconnections, and to prevent it from happening again."

Sewage has been diverted back to the section of sewer pipe that was under rehabilitation Wednesday.

The spills occurred during the relining of a portion of sewer main along Bradley Creek. The process involves inserting a flexible pipe into the old line, which is then cured in place using hot water. As each section of the pipe is relined, sewer is diverted through temporary, aboveground hoses. The line runs into the Bradley Creek Pump station, but has no relationship to the beleaguered Northeast Interceptor.

The Bradley Creek Outfall Rehabilitation Project started in late May and was expected to last another month, covering 4,100 feet of pipe.

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