A malfunctioning pump at the Metropolitan Sewerage District plant sent millions of gallons of raw sewage into the French Broad River starting this morning. MSD crews hope to have the “horrible situation” repaired by early afternoon, said MSD Director of Engineering Stan Boyd, and shortly before 3 p.m. the leak was fixed.
“The overflow stopped a little before 3 p.m.,” Boyd says. “We’re in the process of cleanup around the manholes where the overflows occur, and dealing with the contaminated soil, disinfecting it, make sure we get rid of the pathogens.”
Asked how long it will take, Boyd replied “honestly, I do not know. We’ll work diligently until it’s done.” As for the sewage that made it into the river, “there’s nothing we can do to clean it up,” but he says it will disperse qucikly.
“We’re in the process of replacing a pump — one of three — in our main pumping station. During that construction process, we had a failure in a device,” Boyd tells Xpress. That malfunction occurred just after 8 a.m. this morning, flooding the construction area and causing sewage to back up.
“It is backed up. Unfortunately it’s overflowing from manholes and into the French Broad River,” at the rate of about 1 million gallons an hour, Boyd said earlier today. “It’s a horrible situation and we don’t like it one bit. We’re doing everything we can to speed up the repair process.”
Boyd says an accident like this hasn’t happened before. “Obviously we didn’t anticipate this, but by god we’ll have a contingency plan. This is totally counter to what we try to do.”
Here’s a video of the spill taken by the nonprofit French Broad Riverkeeper. The organization shared the video on Facebook.
Multimedia content compiled by Caitlin Byrd