Letters to the Editor

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PIERCE COUNTY: Sewage project poses danger

Letter by Richard L. Payne, University Place on July 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm with 13 Comments »
July 12, 2011 3:26 pm

I live near Chambers Creek Road where Pierce County’s sewer tunnel project is taking place. Raw sewage will be pumped from a tunnel 80 feet underground to two 24-inch plastic pipes above ground to bypass the sewer line. The raw sewage will be under pressure.

Chambers Creek Road is heavily traveled, and since the two plastic sewer lines are right next to the roadway I am concerned about the possibility of a vehicle crashing into them and causing a rupture. With any rupture and the sewage under pressure there is the potential for thousands of gallons of raw sewage to be pumped into the roadway to flow into neighboring streets and yards.

If this should happen late at night and were not immediately reported, my neighbors and I could wake up to find our homes surrounded by a sewage swamp. I think everybody near this section of Chambers Creek Road is at risk.

I have asked the project manager what provisions have been made to prevent damage from the outflow of sewage to my neighborhood should a rupture occur. I also asked what will be done to repair the damage from the sewage to my neighborhood.

I think these are both fair questions which myself and my neighbors are entitled to have answered, but have not received any reply.

For now, I ask everyone to drive safely on Chambers Creek Road and to remember what is in the pipes next to the road.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Soundlife says:

    It’s called fertilizing with “night soil,” a common practice in much of the third world.
    With the sewage being under pressure, it should also be much easier to spread. Should save trips for Tagoro (sp?)

  2. Soundlife,
    Spoken like someone who is safely up gradient, and up wind.

    The way you describe it, the question is not IF but When1

  3. drkracker151 says:

    Would a jersey barrier work? Or is it too close to the road? And If not that maybe some of the short cement pillars that they paint yellow and put around fire hydrants? Either choice would be way cheaper than a sewage spill, especially if close to the water. The EPA could probably verify that for the people in charge there.

  4. Soundlife says:

    xring, sorry, you are correct, bad form but I could not resist…
    Yes I am safely “upwind,” and Richard is quite correct: if a car can hit it, a car will hit it and sooner rather than later.
    This is another of those where we ask, “what were they thinking?” when it happens..

  5. Soundlife,
    Sometimes humor is all we have.

    I say the humor in your comment (sort of like lemons and lemonade) and could not resist adding my little poke.

    Here’s another one.

    An American Missionary in China complained about the smell of night soil to which a Chinese Framer replied ‘You smell bad odor, I smell family not go hungry this winter.’

  6. Richard,
    I’m not trivializing your problem and wish you the best of luck in solving it before there is a spill.

  7. harleyrider1 says:

    Well, think about it. John Ladenburg took sewer funds to build a golf course – not invest in the best technology and safest build at the sewer plant.

    Live with it. Just don’t vote a Ladenburg back into office. Maybe things will start to get better.

  8. nwcolorist says:

    Ah yes. That would explain the strong odor as I was driving up Chambers Creek Road the other day.

    I agree that, if nothing is done, it’s just a matter of time until a spill occurs.

  9. You “what if” people must be afraid of your own shadow !!! I suppose you drink from Dixie Cups and have plastic windows in your home because of the remote possibility of getting a glass cut on your precious pinkies. Prior to the temp sewer lines being put in place, how much of the roadside vegetation or personal property has been damaged by wreckless drivers in the past 12 months? Hmmm, thought so.. Back to your rubber rooms you go !!!

  10. Misunderestimated says:

    Obviously Jintz doesn’t live in the affected area

  11. stetsonwalker says:

    Sounds like the recipe for a pretty crappy day!

  12. At least Ladenburt is smart enough not to run for Governor like Booth Gardner. Thank God!

  13. PWU_Director says:

    We hope these answers ease concern regarding the Chambers Creek Tunnel Rehabilitation project. This project rehabilitates an existing sewer pipe that is nearly 30 years old and subject to failure. You can’t see it, because it is a hundred feet below Chambers Creek Road. But we see it — and need to repair it.

    Just like open heart surgery, we can’t repair the pipe while fluid is flowing through it. Hence, the pipes you see on the surface provide a bypass during repair operations. We will fill the pipes only when workers are in the tunnel and conducting repairs. The rest of the time, sewage flows like it did before, because it just keeps coming!

    We know the hazards of sewage transport and are serious about keeping control of it. We have taken several safety measures at the site. Traffic speeds through the construction zone are slow and monitored by flaggers. This minimizes the potential for a high speed impact to the bypass pipe. Also, sewage won’t be in the bypass pipes when we are not on site monitoring conditions.

    We are using high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe for this temporary application because it is durable and flexible. Before it carries sewage however, the pipe will be pressure tested with clean water to detect leaks and any other problems. Once the bypass system is operational, we will continuously monitor the pumps for proper operational pressure. Any leak will be cause for an immediate shutdown and cessation of repair work. Again, the pipes will be empty when we’re not doing repair work below ground..

    It is our goal to complete this project safely with minimal risk to the community. Because it is our community too.

    More information and updates on this project can be found at http://www.piercecountywa.org/tunnelrehab.

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