Burlington officials say Haw River cleanup is almost complete

From staff reportsFebruary 1, 2014 

— Officials say the 3.5 million-gallon sewage spill into the Haw River has been mostly cleaned up since a broken pipe at a wastewater facility let sewage into the river.

The spill, which started Jan. 27, wasn’t cleaned up when the public was notified on Thursday.

“We've been working on cleaning up what we can,” said Burlington stormwater manager Michael Layne. “We have to go through and pump some of the liquid back into the (system), but we're somewhat fortunate ... no solids escaped, only liquids escaped.”

The law mandates that any spill of 1,000 gallons or more of untreated wastewater has to be reported to media outlets within 48 hours of the sewage reaching a river, lake or stream.

State officials said the notice was delayed because town and state agencies were concerned with identifying how much sewage had made it to the river and trying to do as much cleanup as possible before Tuesday’s snow.

Layne said it was Burlington’s responsibility to notify the public but the city wanted to wait to have accurate information rather than releasing corrections later.

“Since we were communicating with the state, we felt like we followed protocol so long as we were communicating with them and following their guidance,” Layne said.

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