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Stormy weather leads to Harford Co. sewage spills

Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Harford County reported three storm-related sewage spills last week during power outages at pumping stations at the height of Sandy, a hurricane turned tropical storm.

The largest spill, nearly 2 million gallons, occurred at the Bush Creek station for about two hours starting at 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 29. The station experienced a total lack of power when its back-up generator, which had been operating for several hours after utility power was lost, failed due to a mechanical problem.

Earlier in the day, at about 11:40 a.m., the Dembytown pumping station in Joppa spilled about 2,700 gallons into the Foster Branch, which flows into the Gunpowder River. Crews contained the spill but were later unable to prevent a second discharge of another 25,200 gallons from 5:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. Oct. 30. Hazardous weather and road conditions prevented a repair crew and tanker truck from quickly reaching the station.

The overflows were mostly rainwater from the storm, officials said. Harford County relied on emergency generator power at 39 of its 55 pumping stations during the storm. The pumping stations have since been inspected. The spill sites were cleaned and posted with warning signs in accordance with recommendations from the Harford County Health Department.

Mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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