The private contractor that struck a sewer line in Pompano Beach, Florida, in Jan. 2019 has agreed to pay almost $200,000 in state and county fines.
A total of 52 million gallons of sewage flowed, which is the largest spill on record in the county, according to officials.
The private contractor, Prince Contracting, was working on the state’s Interstate 95 widening project and struck a 42 inch pressurized sewer line with a drill. The sewage flowed for six days through a 2.5 foot hole in the pipe that was 17 feet underground, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Pompano Beach agreed to pay a separate $6,000 county fine because it did not notify nearby residents of the spill and its health risks until three days after the break.
The beach warned residents to avoid swimming or fishing in a canal or using the water to irrigate properties, reported the Sun-Sentinel. The contamination killed fish, frogs, iguanas and even a manatee.
“This is something that no one had thought about,” said City Manager Greg Harrison at a city commission meeting after the spill had been contained. “That line has been in the ground for 45 years and never ever was disturbed.”
The stench lingered for weeks after the sewage spill overwhelmed more than 3 miles of Broward County canals. Five aerators were placed in the canals to create oxygen and minimize the odor. The sewage pushed through the C-1 Canal wall at Northwest 15th Street.
Nine turbidity barriers were also placed under water near the site of the spill to catch floating debris, reported the Sun-Sentinel.
Pompano Beach is continuing to try to recoup clean-up and repair costs of about $2.8 million.
The repairs took longer than expected because some materials had to be borrowed from the county and some had to be made in a facility in Texas. The city is also working to put an emergency repair contract in place, reported Point Publishing.
“We are thinking ahead,” Harrison said. “We are trying to make sure that this is taken care of so that it won’t happen again.”