Mechanical failure leads to massive sewage spill


by Adam Walser

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 14 at 7:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A major failure a the Derek R. Guthrie Water Quality Treatment Center in Southwest Jefferson County has resulted in the discharge of 95 million gallons of untreated wastewater and stormwater flowing into local creeks and the Ohio River.

The run-off is the the result of a problem with the plant's mechanical screening system.

"Those screens failed," Brian Bingham, Regulatory Services Director at MSD said. "We were initially down for about an hour. We were able to get one back up for a while, then it went down again."

The failure came during torrential rainfall, when MSD's system was filled to capacity.

The Guthrie facility is the last downstream destination on MSD's system.
When an ongoing multimillion dollar construction project is completed there, it will be equipped to handle 300 million gallons of water a day.

Over the weekend, all three mechanical screens failed at once, and only one was fully functional Monday morning.

"We're hoping to get the second one back in service. There are three out there. One does have substantial damage and it will be at least a week," Bingham said.

"It's never gonna work 100 percent of the time anyway. Anything malfunctions. It's mechanical, so you know good and well when they have malfunction, then you're gonna have a problem," Don Druin, who lives across the street from the plant said.

Druin says the expansion has brought more flies, terrible odors and continued pollution to nearby creeks.

"What they've done to us and every house up and down the street, they've ruined our property value. I couldn't sell my house if I wanted to," Druin said.

MSD says when the expansion is completed and the systems are working properly, overflow won't be a concern. MSD employees spent Monday making repairs.

"We've got this, we believe, pretty well under control and we believe we'll have all the overflow stopped today," Bingham said.