MSD Blames Barge, Flood Debris For Misssissippi River Craptastrophe

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A spokesman for the Metropolitan Sewer District says the potentially massive leak of human urine and feces from a waste water treatment plant into the Mississippi River that started last Thursday was caused by a barge that struck a fence near the lift station by Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County nearly two months ago.

The MSD's Lance LeComb told KWMU:
"We theorize was that perhaps one of the structures was damaged, debris came in through the breach in the line or the manhole cover, and in addition that allowed an extreme of volume of water to come in at the same time and the two combined just, they overexerted the pumps and they burnt out."
The true extent of the leak won't be known until flood waters subside but LeComb claims that it isn't as bad as the worst-case scenario of 4.6 million gallons per day estimated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He also says that the environmental impact will be minimal because the sewage was "almost instantaneously diluted" by "millions of gallons of river water."

There's still no explanation as to why it took the MSD four days to inform the public and the DNR of the accident. "For some reason that phone call to DNR was not made," LeComb was quoted the Post-Dispatch. The DNR has said they will cite MSD for violating the Clean Water Act, which requires notification of such accidents within 24 hours.

For those keeping score at home, here are the facts so far in this craptastrophe:
  • There's been an accident and hazardous materials spill on an important body of water in the United States.
  • The stuff that spilled is toxic to both the environment and humans.
  • Clean-up of the aforementioned stuff is hindered by deep water.
  • The people responsible have tried to downplay the extent of the damage and keep the public in the dark.
It's not remotely as serious or tragic, but does this sound familiar to anyone else? It seems the biggest difference between this and the tar balls washing up on beaches in the Gulf of Mexico is that it's actual poop rather than stuff that just looks like it.

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