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Jan. 29, 2004 – Less than 24 hours after the Frederiksted beach and pier waters were declared "acceptable for recreation" as a result of repairs to the Lagoon Street pump station, a major mechanical malfunction caused by a broken flange dumped 2,000 gallons of raw sewage out of the station into the Lagoon Street gut and adjacent parking lot.
A Senate Government Operations Committee hearing on waste disposal and road repairs that was scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday on St. Croix was postponed on Wednesday. Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, the committee chair, said he rescheduled the meeting for Feb. 19 "because Commissioner Wayne D. Callwood asked for more time to prepare for the meeting, citing the fact that he had meetings with federal officials at the same time the meeting was set."
If the meeting had not been postponed, the spewing sewage would have most likely interrupted the Senate committee proceedings.
The Frederiksted pump station is located directly in front of the Legislature Building at 1 Lagoon Street. The gut runs approximately 150 feet from the Frederiksted public beach.
Three workers for GEC, the firm contracted by Public Works to make the pump station repairs, narrowly escaped being drowned Thursday in the deluge of untreated wastewater. The workers had just completed installing a new 12-inch cast-iron pipe section in the "dry well" underground section of the pump station.
As they exited the maintenance area, a flange in another section of pipe separated from its connection. Raw sewage exploded from the pipe at what was said to be 100 pounds of pressure. None of the workers were injured.
The sewage surged into the Lagoon Street gut and rose to the high water mark, then flowed into the adjacent parking lot where many employees of the Legislature park their personal vehicles. Employees were immediately advised to move their cars from the area.
Callwood and Tony Messer, Public Works roads and highways director for St. Croix, arrived on the scene within minutes of the malfunction.
"We need to make an assessment and conduct emergency repair," Callwood said. The break had nothing to do with the bypass that was installed recently," he added.
Callwood in a Wednesday release said that emergency repairs had been made at the pump station by GEC, and "this interim work has ceased the release of sewage into the surrounding water." (See "Beach, pier waters 'acceptable for recreation'".)
In the release, Callwood said the pump station had "ceased bypassing into the Frederiksted LaGrange Gut and the adjacent area" on Jan. 17 and that GEC and Public Works subsequently had installed a T-connector and repaired associated lines in the area. The commissioner warned that repairs would continue to be made at the station until three new pumps are installed to replace the existing ones.
On Thursday, he said: "We are going to correct the situation."
Work crews were seen washing down the parking lot late Thursday night and working on the pump station repairs.

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