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View Full Version : Little Pigeon Sewage Spill


highpockets
04-05-2011, 12:04 PM
Just an FYI:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/04/05/2-workers-missing-huge-spill-tennessee-sewage-plant/

Crockett
04-05-2011, 01:10 PM
Just saw that on the news it will take years to fix that

Carlito
04-05-2011, 01:38 PM
Not good. I wonder what the environmental impact will be? That's high enough that it will impact a lot of relatively unspoilt water.

Crockett
04-05-2011, 02:34 PM
I thought that is the one that has had several spills in the past but it has probably been long enough to clear out again. It will have a terrible impact downstream.

Lumber_Jack
04-05-2011, 05:37 PM
I always considered the little P section at the spur contaminated from previous spills from that plant. This however is more than can be imagined and will have much large impact much farther downstream. Sad about the missing, praying for them and their families

flyred06
04-05-2011, 07:23 PM
The enviromental impact will be horrific. That is true, but my deeper grief goes out to the men who were killed in this incident and their families. That should be our greatest concern. The enviroment has a way of taking care of itself but this lose of life is all to tragic and will leave a hole for two different families. Our prayers go out for these people.

whitefeather
04-05-2011, 08:35 PM
We are very sorry to hear that the two workers died in the accident. Their families will be in our prayers, as well as all people likely to be affected by the contamination of the sewage in the Little Pigeon River and other ripple effects from it.

Unforntunately, these type problems can be devastating on the communities, the local economy, the environment, and the residents of the area. The Lower Little Pigeon downstream might be gone for a long time before its finally cleaned up.

spotlight
04-05-2011, 11:09 PM
Be glad we had all the rain and the river is raging it will help wash it down and dilute it. South Knoxville will have some tasty drinking water here in a few days. Very sad for sure.

flyman
04-06-2011, 09:47 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to the 2 guys that were swept away and their families. :frown:

MadisonBoats
04-06-2011, 09:52 AM
This is a very sad accident for two-men who were just doing their every-day jobs so citizens can have sewage services. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.

I was curious about the environmental impact and researched in on the internet. It seems that the river flow rate and temperature will mitigate the oxygen depletion of the spill and it should rebound rather quickly. However; there is a flash effect to the system during an event like this.

Here is a website that simplifies this type of situation.
http://www.shodor.org/refdesk/Resources/Activities/DissolvedOxygen/

Hopefully, they will identify why this accident happened to help protect other workers that could be at risk.

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 10:04 AM
This is a very sad accident for two-men who were just doing their every-day jobs so citizens can have sewage services. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.

I was curious about the environmental impact and researched in on the internet. It seems that the river flow rate and temperature will mitigate the oxygen depletion of the spill and it should rebound rather quickly. However; there is a flash effect to the system during an event like this.

Here is a website that simplifies this type of situation.
http://www.shodor.org/refdesk/Resources/Activities/DissolvedOxygen/

Hopefully, they will identify why this accident happened to help protect other workers that could be at risk.


Shawn,

According to the newspaper article at the above link, Gburg officials said the sewage was, and would continue to drain directly into LPR until the necessary repairs were made to the retainment structure that collapsed. After the run off from the storms settles down and the river drops.

Bran
04-06-2011, 10:42 AM
Prayers go out to the families for their loss. Sad thing.

FishNHunt
04-06-2011, 07:28 PM
The job of a waste water plant operator is not often thought of as a glamorous one. There are long slow days of monotonous route followed by grueling hours and days of none stop running to prevent a spillage in the even of what's called a high flow. There are days where the operator will come home cleaner than when he arrived at work, and other days his wife will make him undress before he can come in the house.
I've been a waste water treatment plant operator of the past 10 years so I can speak with some experience. The tragic accident in Gatlinburg could and should have been avoided. Simple inspections and even someone with the slightest engineering ability could have told you that any wall, especially a square or with corners, has to be reinforced with fill. This wall was destine to fall with only the re bar holding the back wall in place. I assume that the operators killed were inspecting a leak or the wall was already beginning to lean when it toppled over onto them.
The environmental impact may not be as terrible as many expect although I am simply speaking from my experience at my plant. I will begin with the most obvious the sewage. The sewage that spilled out COULD have only contained about 1/4 sewage WATER and 3/4 storm water. Due to what is called infiltration the intake of a sewage plant will increase substantially in a rain even. This is caused by faulty pipes, illegal gutting hook ups, and open man holes in flood prone areas. Amazingly the open man holes are a HUGE problem. Kids wanting to know what's in them and theft of the lids are the main reason. The night that the wall busted I was working a high flow event and my in fluent (coming into the plant) CL2 (chlorine) was .001 PPM. This level is hardly detectable. The D.O. (dissolved oxygen) in fluent was 2.3. The flow went from a normal 9 MGD (million gallon a day) to 36 MGD. You can do the math and see that the infiltration (which is rain water) was 4 times higher than normal, meaning dilution over pollution.
So the CL2 (again Chlorine) would have created a minimal impact on the aquatic life. The sewage solid waste would have also created a minimal impact due to the river being high and waste solids that could have been in the tank would have been minimal equalling dilution into the river. The D.O. (dissolved oxygen) would have been low however, the oxygen level in the river would have offset that making it's impact minimal. NOW, you may find some non volatile solids such as corn, pill casings, grit, tomato and watermelon seeds, and (I hate to say this but) condoms, and tampons as well in the river.
I believe that the river will be okay and heal it's self in a short period of time with very little actual impact to the aquatic life. If anything there may be an increase in algae due to the over abundance of organic matter for it to feast upon. That should die out once the organic matter dissipates. There is something that not many think about and the state nor EPA has us test for and that's hormones. Your always told to "flush your out dated or unused" pills. Actually I advise you not to because there is nothing at present time that we (plant operators) can do to remove this from waste water and it just continues on down stream. Think about this the next time you empty a pill bottle into toilet.

silvercreek
04-06-2011, 07:38 PM
Thanks for the learned input on this tragedy. I've thought the backbone of civilization rest on sewer systems. Just how long would a city be habitable without an effective sewer system? Back in the flood last year, Nashville almost lost its system which basically would have shut down the city in short order. Regards, Silvercreek

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 07:55 PM
Fishnhunt,

Nice job filling in the facts for us! Thankyou!

However, Gburg is still bypassing all sewage right down WPLP because they have no retaining system.

Won't this situation increase the concentration of polution down river now that the stream is going down?

FishNHunt
04-06-2011, 09:30 PM
Whitefeather, when they say "bypassing" that simply means that most of the STORM water is being by passed. It is my understanding that that basin has been valved off and it is passing threw another basin. That basin appears to have been some sort of an oxidation ditch from the pictures that I've saw. An oxidation ditch is used as a settling basin and starts the process of (in layman's terms) the bugs eating the organics. This can be accomplished in a clarifier as well. The state and EPA require that to "bypass" there has to be biological removal of the organics. If there is no biological treatment what so ever then it's called a spill which fines can range from but, not limited to $10,000 a spillage, $10,000 an hour, $100,000 for a prolonged event and jail time which if negligence is found on the part of the superintendent she could be facing serious charges. One must have a license to operate a waste water plant and it is clearly known that WE even as operators can be jailed for failure to do our jobs, or falsifying information. The test takes over 4 hours to finish and a degree is calculus would be a major benefit. It's THAT HARD.
I don't want to sound as if I'm down playing this event. It's tragic and horrific for the families of the operators. With time the families of the souls lost will heal just as the river and aquatic life.

Without sending fear across this board and anyone that we come into contact with I will say that at some point or another a sewage plant or it's lift stations will have an over flow. A pump will fail, or the power will go out, or there just won't be enough space or detention time to hold all the water coming into the plant. You can plan for growth but, no one really knows the exact population of a city in the next 20 years. Once the maximum capacity of a treatment plant has been reached then there has to be expansions and they are costly, VERY costly. They must be budgeted and funds found or made for such a major undertaking. The City of Maryville just spent $30 million expanding it's waste treatment plant and it's a sight to be seen on a scare that is on par for a city the size of Nashville. The holding capacity and ability to treat even the greatest of rain events is astounding.

I did not know any of the operators lost in Gatlinburg but, I have offered my knowledge and time free of charge while the others cope with the loss and grieve with the families.

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 10:32 PM
Fishnhunt,

Thanks for your detailed expert opinion and I mean that. The media was reporting that the raw sewage was being discharged into the river. We out here aren't that educated in the facts, such as yourself, and tend to form opinions based on what we hear from the media.

All too often the facts overlooked, especially when its comes to the fines. You reminded me of that, not from a standpoint of your specialty, but from a hazardous waste spill standpoint, which in fact this was, but I'm talking about large quanties of chemical spills and the like. I am familiar with that as I had to train on it, but I don't have a degree in it or any practical experience, other than a few minor situations.

The families of the victims will be on our prayer list as well as the river and all its wildlife, and people who utilize it for whatever reason.

And it's very good to know that nature has a fighting chance to recover fully.

Thanks again and thanks for caring, both personally and professionally!

Corbo
04-07-2011, 02:16 AM
Thanks FisnNhunt for sharing your knowledge. I agree with you about the retaining wall failing for lack of back fill or butresses. The load on the wall would cause it to bow over time and rebar is not enough for this lateral force. Round is always better than square. A horrible tragedy; prayers for them and their loved ones.... hope they sue.

I'm confused in regards to WATER SUPPLY as the Newspaper said Knox-chapman water comes from the lower french broad river which is obviously downstream from the LPR.

I live in Seymour too and have public water.... will I be consuming turd from Gatlinburg?

Human hormones from birth control pills pollute rivers all across the country and are thought to have an effect on male fish reproductive parts.

Green Weenie
04-07-2011, 07:52 AM
I think I can say that we really appreciate the write up, FishNHunt. We are lucky to have someone with such extensive knowledge of this type on the board. It helps us laypeople to better understand what is going on without all the media fear-mongering.

Thanks again.

Rodonthefly
04-07-2011, 09:08 AM
Hats off to ya FishNHunt! Thanks for all your input on this. I really learned alot from this.

Forgot to ask, given your knowledge of this tragedy, how long would you wait to start fishing the river again? What could some the effects of fishing it be? I was told last year when I started fishing the river, make sure and not bite any fly off due to high levels of ecoli.

FishNHunt
04-07-2011, 11:10 AM
In regards to the drinking water. Most water treatment plants now days use a membrane filter which looks like long strands of spaghetti that is pores. The water is drawn threw these and is only the beginning of a long line in treating the water. These water treatment plants remove down to the virus levels. E-coli is naturally in water along with all other pathogens that will make you sick. These treatment plants filter all this out (minus the hormones). You wouldn't notice any difference in your water from last week. These systems are that good. It's just a mind over matter type thing. It's clean water but, now you know what was in it.

Being that it was the Pigeon river I rarely fish it but, had it been the little river I wouldn't worry about fishing it as soon as the river came down to a suitable level. The only ill effects that I could see after the current river flow decreased might be cosmetics actually. You MAY see some inorganic like a stated earlier. The fish should be just fine and I would be truly shocked if there were any fish killed. I can't say that the river would be 100% e-coli free but, I couldn't have said that before the breech.

Knothead
04-07-2011, 06:22 PM
FishNHunt, thanks for sharing your expertise.
Regarding medications, when my mother went into a nursing home, I couldn't give them to the nursing home. Liability, I suppose. I took them to our local CVS pharmacy and they said they would dispose of them. I encourage others to take them to a pharmacy to dispose of any old or unneeded medications, OTC or prescription.
Male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River had been found to have eggs in them. Scientists and biologists feel this is due to people putting hormone medications into the water supply.

Mundele
04-07-2011, 11:19 PM
Speaking of bass, I was planning on fishing for smallies in pigeon forge (somewhere in town) and have been looking forward to april and my first smallie on a flyrod for months. I guess that's not a good idea with the spill...

--Matt

MickT
04-08-2011, 09:46 AM
Matt, there's always the LR- it's got a healthy smallmouth population on down from the park.

ttas67
04-08-2011, 10:53 AM
I observed the river yesterday in sevierville. It has a light, but definite stench to it, and there is what I believe looks like toilet paper (I wasn't going to touch it to find out) strewn throughout the trees. Other than that, the water doesn't look bad, just a little high. At the city park, which was packed with people, there were no signs to warn people of the situation. This tells me that the city is either totally irresponsible, or knows that its not a big deal.

Troutman
04-08-2011, 09:13 PM
I observed the river yesterday in sevierville. It has a light, but definite stench to it, and there is what I believe looks like toilet paper (I wasn't going to touch it to find out) strewn throughout the trees. Other than that, the water doesn't look bad, just a little high. At the city park, which was packed with people, there were no signs to warn people of the situation. This tells me that the city is either totally irresponsible, or knows that its not a big deal.

I believe the city of Sevierville, Pigeon forge, and especially Gatlinburg are all totally irresponsible for how they take care of the river. They only think about how they can bring more tourist in. look how much money is spent on widening the roads. G-burg has been cited by the EPA many times for its waste water system. They don't get fined, so they just don't do anything about it.

Bfish
04-09-2011, 12:57 PM
...
Male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River had been found to have eggs in them. Scientists and biologists feel this is due to people putting hormone medications into the water supply.

Actually research is starting to point more toward animal husbandry, particular Confined Animal Feed Operations, rather than medical waste. Vicki Blazer is the lead research on the issue (particular on the Shenandoah and Potomac).

Bran
04-09-2011, 01:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttas67 http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/images/styles/smartbrown/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/showthread.php?p=92161#post92161)
I observed the river yesterday in sevierville. It has a light, but definite stench to it, and there is what I believe looks like toilet paper (I wasn't going to touch it to find out) strewn throughout the trees. Other than that, the water doesn't look bad, just a little high. At the city park, which was packed with people, there were no signs to warn people of the situation. This tells me that the city is either totally irresponsible, or knows that its not a big deal.

"I believe the city of Sevierville, Pigeon forge, and especially Gatlinburg are all totally irresponsible for how they take care of the river. They only think about how they can bring more tourist in. look how much money is spent on widening the roads. G-burg has been cited by the EPA many times for its waste water system. They don't get fined, so they just don't do anything about it. "

Right on Gary and they won't pay attention until they're hit where it hurts, in the wallet. I work at a power plant where we fire a small amount of coal, I'm the main contact for the EPA and the state air quality inspectors as well as all emissions equipment. You would not believe the amount of regulation we have to traverse each day, it's literally hard to keep up with!
The last several times I or my wife have fished the stocked water in G-burg we have carried a bag and picked up trash. It's nasty under those bridges through town. I have stood in G-burg and wondered at what a pretty river that must have been a couple hundred years ago to look like it does now.