Friday power outage causes waste discharge into Conn. River from Northampton treatment plant

Hampshire County

A power outage at the Northampton Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday night caused treated waste to be discharged early Saturday morning. 

Northampton Department of Public Works Donna LaScaleia told 22News, Friday’s severe weather affected the plant’s treatment process causing electrical and mechanical failure.

LaScaleia said outage resulted in discharge to the Old Mill River bed which discharges to the Connecticut River just before 5 a.m. Saturday.

She said the discharge was not recoverable. As of Saturday evening, there was no further waste discharged.

“This was a circumstance that started with severe weather on Friday night and our equipment failure was triggered by the power outage,” LaScaleia said.

The Northampton wastewater treatment plant treats nearly 4 million gallons of sewage a day. The Department of Public Works said this was a fluke occurrence. 

The Department of Public Works advised residents Saturday to wait until at least Monday before swimming in the river downstream of the plant. 

As of Sunday disinfection had been restored to the plant, and crews were working to fully restore all treatment processes as quickly as they could.

 LaScaleia said upgrades to the plant disinfection valued at $1.5 million were recently completed, and electrical and HVAC upgrades valued between $10 to $12 million are anticipated for 2019 to 2020.

It is not known yet how much primary treated sewage went into the river. 

The Department of Public Works is also working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to ensure appropriate communication, remedial action, and regulatory compliance. 

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