A pipe failure on Monday in British Columbia has released an estimated 1.2 million gallons of raw sewage into the Columbia River. Emergency crews from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment stopped the flow Tuesday afternoon.
But Washington Department of Ecology spokeswoman Jani Gilbert says once the sewage is in the river, there’s nothing they can do to clear it out.
Jani Gilbert: “With sewage, it doesn’t stay on the top. Like for an oil spill, the oil stays on top of the water and you can put out absorbent booms, but unfortunately with sewage, we have to just let it run its course and run through the system.”
Gilbert says the state is working with Stevens County health officials to keep the public away from the river. She says the biggest problem may be for fish. The sewage acts as a fertilizer for algae blooms, sapping the river of its oxygen.
This comes on the heels of another sewage spill over the weekend. Five-hundred-thousand gallons spilled into the Columbia after a pump failed at the East Wenatchee wastewater treatment plant.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network