Portland Closes East End Beach Due to Malfunction at WWTP

July 20, 2020

A power outage at the Portland Wastewater Treatment Plant recently occurred 

Portland officials closed the East End Beach on Sunday after the Portland Water District was notified of a malfunction that occurred at the nearby East End Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The beach will remain closed until test results prove that the water conditions are safe for swimmers, according to Jessica Grondin, spokeswoman for the city of Portland, reported the Portland Press Herald.

A Central Maine Power line that feeds electricity to the plant shut off around 8:15 a.m. Sunday. Even further, the backup generator at the plant failed to generate power, according to Scott Firmin, director of the wastewater treatment plant. 

This caused an undetermined amount of wastewater discharge to leave the plant and enter Casco Bay. Not all of the discharge was completely disinfected, Firmin said. Power was restored around 2:30 p.m. and a rented portable generator was brought in as a safety precaution.

The Portland Water District owns and operates the treatment plant which serves 60,000 people and handles an average of 20 million gallons of water each day.

“Our disinfection system was interrupted and out of an abundance of caution I made a call to the city and notified them,” said Firmin.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection was notified as well, added the Portland Press Herald. Firmin must file a report with the DEP explaining what happened at the plant and the decision to reopen East End Beach will be up to the city after test results are analyzed.

The beach closure is the second time in two years that malfunctions at the treatment plan have forced the city to shut down East End Beach, according to the Portland Press Herald. On Jul. 26, 2018, the city temporarily closed East End Beach because a disinfection tank was not put back on line after being cleaned and a second tank was overwhelmed by high flows caused by heavy overnight rains. About 1.69 million gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled as a result.

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