STATE: CITY NOT TO BLAME FOR SPILL

October 30, 2000 12:00 am

The Department of Environmental Quality has determined that the Oct. 20 sewage spill on Buena Vista Loop was due to factors beyond the reasonable control of the city.

City personnel are to be congratulated for their quick response and efforts that limited this spill, DEQ Natural Resource Specialist Ruben Kretzschmar noted in a letter to City Manager Leroy Blodgett.

The city reported Oct. 20 that failure of a bypass pump around the sewer lift station on Buena Vista Loop had dumped approximately 16,000 gallons of fluid onto the beach between Chetco Point and the North Jetty of the Chetco River.

The city reported the spill to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and posted the beach in the area.

Kretzschmar said approximately 306 gallons of raw sewage was included in the spill, which had occurred at 7:30 a.m.

Brookings Chief Plant Operator Joe Ingwerson said the spill occurred while Wildish Construction was installing higher volume pumps at the lift station.

Pumps had been set up to bypass the station while the old wet well was jackhammered out and a larger well poured.

An unexpected amount of rainfall that morning overwhelmed the temporary pumps, sending contaminated water into an overflow pipe that empties into a culvert which goes directly into Chetco Cove, Ingwerson said.

Kretzschmar said overflows are prohibited unless:

There is no other way to prevent an uncontrolled overflow or their is a danger of loss of life, personal injury or severe property damage.

There are no feasible alternatives to the overflow

They overflow is the result of an upset.

Upset is defined as an exceptional incident in which there is unintentional and temporary noncompliance because of factors beyond the reasonable control of permittee, Kretzschmar stated.

This incident appears to fall into this definition, he concluded.