Due to the second-largest spill in Wilmington, N.C.’s history, about 5 million gal of sewage leaked out of the forcemain pipe off of River Road. City officials estimated that about half of the leaking sewage water was contained by tanker trucks, but the rest ended up in the Cape Fear River. Three days after the leak began on Monday, July 5, city officials said it is finally under control, according to wwaytv3.com.
The spill happened at around 5 p.m. Monday when a sub-contractor for Progress Energy hit the main pipeline while installing underground utilities. According to the Division of Water Quality, human error is to blame for the leak, rather than an accident due to faulty sewer pipelines.
After initial repair efforts failed, city officials changed their strategy. In an effort to stop the flow of wastewater as quickly as possible, officials secured new equipment and even brought in supplies from Alabama.
By Thursday morning, crews were finally able to repair the sewage line, but by then, a lot damage had already been done. Nearly 2.4 million gal of raw sewage was dumped into the Cape Fear River.
“What they did is they basically put a giant band or sleeve around the pipe, and it’s a 24-in. pipe so it’s a big pipe to begin with,” said City Spokesperson Malissa Talbert. “They put that sleeve around it to basically stop the flow of water.”
Now, city officials are trying to figure out if the temporary band they put up to stop the sewage from leaking will become permanent.
“If we’re not 100%, we’ll probably do something else a couple of months down the road to just try and safeguard it against a further break,” Talbert said.
Although the spill is contained, city leaders said they are still focusing on fixing the problem, rather than investigating who is at fault.