Shutdown persists at Hull wastewater plant; sewage pours into Atlantic for second day

Raw sewage continued to stream into the Atlantic Ocean as the Hull wastewater treatment plant entered its second day out of service, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said today.

The sewage has been diverted from the treatment plant, which began experiencing an abnormally high volume of wastewater early Thursday morning. The pumps became overwhelmed, shutting the plant down and causing 30 feet of sewage to flood the plant.

This morning, a foot of raw sewage still flooded areas of the plant, said agency spokesman Ed Coletta.

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Crews have installed pumps and pipes to divert wastewater out of the sewer system. The water is now being pumped through a manhole, over a rocky area on the beach, and across a stretch of sand into the bay.

An estimated 2 million gallons of raw sewage will be pumped into the Atlantic each day the plant is off-line, town and state officials said Thursday.

“The plan at this point is to bring in temporary pumps to attach to the treatment plant system as well as temporary electrical systems to stop pumping untreated sewage out of manholes and back into the plant under a temporary system,” Coletta said.

It could be two days before that temporary system is in place, Coletta said, and an additional week or two before the plant’s system is completely repaired.

When diverted through the plant, the waste undergoes treatment and chlorination before it is pumped into the ocean, Coletta said. The plant also utilizes an outfall pipe, sending the treated sewage hundreds of yards off the coast.

In the meantime, Coletta said he was not greatly concerned about the environmental impact from the raw sewage on the water, stressing that the Department of Environmental Protection’s job is to ensure the town officials are doing everything possible to treat the water.

Reggie Zimmerman, a spokesman for the state agency overseeing the Division of Marine Fisheries, said Thursday that the division is monitoring the situation and will determine whether to suspend fishing in the area.

Bruce Berman, director of strategy, communications, and programs for harbor advocacy organization Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, said the situation in Hull was not cause for immediate alarm.

“Not so long ago, we were discharging 200 million gallons of largely untreated sewage into the Boston Harbor every day. And that said, a discharge of 2 million gallons is not the end of the world,” Berman said. “However, it’s never good to dump raw sewage into the water.”

Today, officials continued to urge residents to limit water use, although the town’s drinking water is not affected. Hull Public Schools, closed Thursday as a precaution, were back in session today.

The plant, located just past the Hull Yacht Club, is run by private company United Water, which is under contract with the town and has operated the plant for more than a decade, said Hull Town Manager Philip E. Lemnios. The company has no record of safety issues, he said in an interview with the Globe on Thursday.

“They’ve been very good,” Lemnios said. “Water treatment [plants] are very, very heavily monitored.”

United, based in Harrington Park, N.J., operates in 21 states and runs more than 100 municipal water systems, according to the company’s website.

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