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City of Albany: Grease balls and rags related to cause of latest sewage spill

Updated: Jul. 23, 2019 at 9:52 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - An Albany official said it was difficult to remove big grease balls that clogged a pipe and caused 30,000 gallons of sewage to spill.

The sewage leaked into the Percosin Canal after the spill on Saturday.

The sound of the bypass pumps radiated through an Albany neighborhood as neighbors said a bad smell lingered in their noses.

“This odor from the sewage, I can’t even sit out in the yard and I love sitting in the yard. Me and my grandson love sitting out in the yard and we just can’t do it,” said resident James Terry.

James Terry lives next door to the recent spill site.
James Terry lives next door to the recent spill site.

Terry lives on the corner of West Gordon Avenue and Elm Street where 30,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the holding pond across the street from his home, leading into the Percosin Canal Saturday.

The sewage spilled out of the Elm Street manhole.
The sewage spilled out of the Elm Street manhole.

“And we really have a bad problem with this sewage. And it’s not the first time it’s overflowed,” said Terry.

Albany Sewer Superintendent Jeff Hughes said the pipe underneath the Elm Street manhole was clogged with big grease balls and rags.

After they learned of the spill, it took his crews time to unclog that type of trash.

“We went ahead and got some more people in here and set up bypass pumping to pump around the blockage until such time that we could get everything cleaned,” said Hughes.

The sewage spilled into the holding pond across the street from the manhole.
The sewage spilled into the holding pond across the street from the manhole.

Hughes said the latest spill has nothing to do with the multi-million dollar lift station repair projects currently underway, since this is a pipe and not one of the pumps that was affected.

“We’re going to look at our cleaning schedule in that area to make sure we’re cleaning up like we should,” said Hughes.

Hughes said grease and rags are things that should never be flushed or dumped down a drain because they do clog the sewer pipes. But Terry said after the spill, he’s ready to see the area clean again.

“I’d really appreciate it. And I know the rest of the neighborhood would, too,” said Terry.

The city said the blocked pipe is not an ESG Operations issue. That’s the new company they hired to take over the sewage maintenance.

City officials also said to avoid the water in the Percosin Canal for 30 days, but the city’s drinking water is safe.

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