Third Leak at Shippensburg Sewer Plant Prompts Investigation


SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Shippensburg is in some hot water with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection after the borough's sewer plant recently leaked for the third time in less than two months.

The first leak was contained, but the second and third leaks were not. In the last two incidents, some partially treated sewage spilled into Middle Spring Creek, which eventually feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the third incident, plastic disks called “media” got into the creek. The disks, which are about the size of a dime, are used to help filter sewage water. Although they are not toxic to humans, they should not be in natural water sources.

"There are a lot of people that are concerned,” said Shippensburg Borough Council President Andrea Lage. “We did have two discharges into the stream, the one on February 26th as well as the one on March 3rd."

Officials say the series of leaks stem from construction on the sewer plant. The borough hired Pact II Construction and Arrow Engineering about two years ago to increase the size of the plant and improve the quality of water filtration, a $12 million project.

"We need to get our plant design issues corrected so we can get move forward and get our construction finished and get our plant operating the way it needs to," said Shippensburg Borough Manager Lance Hoover.

The contractor is now paying for cleanup costs but council members say they are fully committed to remediation.

"We are conducting our own investigation,” said Hoover. “The Department of Environmental Protection is conducting their investigation. At this time we don't know but there are things we need to have answered very quickly"

Many unanswered questions remain as to who or what is responsible for the leaks. Although borough officials say accountability is a priority, for now, they are just focusing on the cleanup.

"Talk of lawsuits in my mind is premature,” said Lage. “We still don't know exactly what happened and why it happened. So right now, we're working with our engineer and our contractor and their subcontractor to try and answer those questions."

Although borough officials say it is too early to figure out who is responsible, they say they are not completely ruling out legal action against the contractor or engineer. They have hired an attorney to look into the incidents.

Thankfully, since water used for bathing and drinking in Shippensburg comes from wells, residents should have no issues with the water they use in their homes.

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