Residents of Hull, Massachusetts received an automated reverse 911 call at around 5:30 this morning, advising schools in the area would close after the town’s waste water facility suffered a critical malfunction and flooded with raw sewage. Locals have been urged to conserve their water use, though officials have declared the town’s drinking water to be safe.
The Boston Herald reports the Hull waste water treatment plant began flooding with sewage around 1:30am. The basement is equipped with a well in case of flooding, but even with such safety measures in place the plant’s pumping machinery was unable to operate with the volume of uncontained sewage flow and the plant was flooded with more than 10 feet of sewage water. Hull Town Manager, Philip E. Lemnios has said it is too early to assess the extent of the damage as facility crews continue to pump the overflow out of the plant and into nearby storm drains. The situation inside the facility is currently considered to be stable and officials insist the deluge of raw sewage is confined to the facility. Schools are expected to remain closed until Friday.
The overflow has forced facility operators to divert the flow of raw sewage through the plant and into the Atlantic Ocean. Boston.com estimates that for each day the treatment plant is offline, 2 million gallons of raw sewage will be pumped into the waters surrounding the Massachusetts town. Spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection, Edmund Colleta said that the raw sewage will be pumped via an existing outlet pipe that ends far away from the shoreline. In early February, a blizzard descended on Hull and the town was hit by a massive storm surge that saw 20 foot waves crashing onto the shore and flooding resident’s homes. WCBV The Boston Channel reported the residents were evacuated by the National Guard following the storms. These recent heavy rains and snow melts have contributed to the current emergency, increasing the flow of waste water from 1.7 million gallons to 2 million gallons and exceeding the plant’s processing capacity, according to the DEP. State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency are on the scene and assisting with the situation and the DEP continues to monitor the environmental impact. Residents are continuing to limit their water usage, including restricting their showers and flushing their toilets, and the town will assess if schools are required to stay closed on Friday morning.