By Dale Heberlig
A third spill in less than three weeks at Shippensburg's wastewater treatment plant discharged sewage into Middle Spring Creek overnight Sunday [March 2] according to Lance Hoover, Shippensburg Borough Manager.
A frustrated Hoover said plant employees discovered the discharge early Monday when they reported for work.
"I was there early this morning and will be going back," Hoover said about 8 a.m. Monday.
He said DEP has been notified and engineers were on their way.
Hoover says the malfunction appears similar to the discharge that dumped sewage into the stream overnight Feb. 25. Both recent spills could be related to a first discharge that occurred Feb. 12, when an unspecified malfunction and a recently upgraded treatment tank caused "media" to escape into the plant's filters.
While contractors reported the escaped "media" were all collected, Hoover says it appears that was not the case.
Following the Feb. 12 incident, the treatment process was transferred into a second tank at the plant -- a tank in which the upgrade had been started but not completed. Hoover says the incidents are still being investigated, but the Feb. 25 discharge and Sunday night's spill appear to have been caused by "media" collecting in the filters. The "media in the filters triggered the filters to backwash and the backwash tank overflowed, Hoover said.
Referring to what, if any, personnel failures contributed to the back-to-back-to-back discharges at the plant, Hoover predicted, "Things will be coming to a head pretty quickly."
A $12 million project to increase capacity and install a cutting-edge enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) system at the plant is underway. Completion of the project was originally scheduled for this spring.
Borough Council fired former plant manager, Chuck Music without any public explanation in November in the midst of the expansion project.
He has not been replaced. ARRO Engineers have been the designated plant operator since then.
Note: This story appeared as "Sewer discharges for a third time" on the cover of the March 4, 2014 Shippensburg News Chronicle. Accompanying the story was a note that the directors of CFJMA were meeting that night at 6pm for a special meeting to discuss the sewage discharges and would have a follow up meeting with Borough representatives at the Shippensburg Borough office on Thursday, March 6, at 11am.