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An investigation by state regulators is underway into what happened at a sewage treatment plant in Ozark that resulted in over 160,000 gallons of partially-treated wastewater entering the Finley River. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.
According to state officials, a power outage Wednesday evening resulted in 162,000 gallons of partially-treated sewage flowing into the Finley River in Ozark. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources found out about the problem from an anonymous tip that someone phoned in.Kevin Hess is Water Pollution Section Chief for DNR. He outlines what likely happened Wednesday evening.
Kevin Hess says, “There was a round of thunderstorms that went through that evening. It appears at this time, that the power to the plant was hit by lightening, which knocked the power out to the plant for two and a half hours. The main issue there was not that the plant was overloaded or not treating it. They have ultraviolet light disinfection, which had to have power to operate. So, during that period, it was getting some treatment but it wasn’t getting disinfected at the end.”
Hess says the department did not get a sample of the waste water that entered the river but he advises anyone who might have contact with the Finley River in the Ozark area to take precautions.He says Ozark will test the water near the sewage treatment plant until the samples are normal, and because many variables affect water flow, it’s hard to say how long it will take for the samples to come back clean.The Department of Natural Resources is investigating what happened and Hess says a report is likely to be done in a couple of weeks. One issue under discussion will be how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
Hess says, “We’ll be talking with the city as far as looking at an emergency back-up plan for them to have back-up power in the future, if it does happen again. Our investigation will be a write-up and sent to the city, based on what we found and what comes out of it.”
Hess estimates it will take a couple of weeks to complete the investigation.