Waste Water treatment vandalism leads to spill

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2018

LANETT — Over the weekend the Lanett Waste Water Treatment Plant was vandalized, resulting in an estimated 2,289,500 gallons of sewage overflow according to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

According to a city press release, an unknown individual or group entered the plant sometime between 8 p.m. Sunday, July 29 and 7 a.m. Monday, July 30. An unspecified amount of damage was done to the facility and equipment, causing a backup in four manholes near Tanyard Creek.

“The water plant has continued to run while monitoring incoming and outgoing and everything is fine,” City Inspector Tony Chandler said. “It was in an isolated area … very near the plant so it never made it out to houses or anything.”

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An official report by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, stated that the overflow happened half a mile north of Sewer Plant Road. The spillage spread on the ground around the Waste Water Treatment Plant and the edge of the creek, which feeds into the Chattahoochee River. Fortunately, Chandler said that the spillage was primarily solid waste, meaning runoff into the waterways was minimal.

When the spillage was discovered Monday morning by Clear Water Solutions, the company who operates the plant under contract from the city of Lanett, ADEM was notified of the issue, according to the release.

“Initial testing to the area showed no significant contamination and recent rains further dissipated the discharge contamination,” the release reads. “The area continues to be monitored by ADEM, along with City of Lanett personnel and Clear Water Solutions, and testing Wednesday morning showed no signs of contamination.”

No issues with the city’s drinking water have been detected in the continuous monitoring of water treatment systems. The Lanett Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and City of Lanett Code Enforcement Division are investigating the incident and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security have been notified.

The city urges anyone with information on the break-in to contact LPD at 334-644-5236.