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PUMPING FAILURE PROMPTS ANOTHER HEALTH ALERT

Jan. 30, 2004 – The Planning and Natural Resources Department issued yet another public advisory on Friday concerning potential health dangers in the waters, on the beaches and along the streets of Frederiksted in the vicinity of the once again non-functioning Lagoon Street pump station.
"Avoid the areas around the Lagoon Street gut, Frederiksted public beach and the Frederiksted pier" was the advice in a release issued by Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett.
Especially persons "with compromised immune systems should avoid the above-mentioned areas and the impacted beaches," the release stated. "Standing or running water in these areas may contain contaminants or pollutants harmful to human health."
A Public Works release issued later Friday asked that the public "refrain from using the Frederiksted beaches from the Ann E. Abramson Pier westward until further notice."
DPNR also had issued public health advisories relating Lagoon Street pump station failures on Dec. 8, Jan. 5 and Jan. 9. On Wednesday, Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood issued a release saying the pump station had malfunctioned on Jan. 17 but that emergency repairs had been made and that analysis of water samples taken on Jan. 22 had determined that the beach and pier area were "acceptable for recreation."
Callwood noted in the Wednesday release that there would be ongoing repairs to the pump station until three new pumps can be installed to replace the existing ones — adding that he expected the station to be in "full operation" by April.
On Thursday, another malfunction resulted in the pump station spewing out what was reported to be 2,000 gallons of untreated sewage that surged into the Lagoon Street gut, overflowing into the adjacent parking lot used by employees of the Legislature.
Plaskett's Friday release described the Thursday incident: "The Lagoon Street pump station was rendered inoperable when a coupling on the force main became dislodged while DPW contractor GEC was in the process of removing a valve within the dry well. As a result, the gravity feed line is currently sending sewage via adjacent gut into the receiving waters of the Frederiksted public beach."
The release said DPNR's Environmental Protection Division is investigating the matter. Those seeking additional information were directed to telephone the division offices at 773-1082.
Callwood's release issued later Friday said that the pump station "experienced mechanical failure on late Thursday afternoon, causing the dry well to flood onto the surrounding areas." It said that Public Works "with the assistance of its contrctor, GEC, was able to control the problem within a short period of time and commenced cleanup operations and repairs [which continued] throughout the night."
Callwood offered this explanation of what happened: "During the replacement of a failed valve, a mechanical joint slipped and caused the force main to flood the dry well." He said that Public Works and GEC were working Friday "to replace the failed valve, which will put the system back into the pump-around status and cease any bypassing of the system into the nearby area."
And, Callwood said, Public Works "will continue to stive to meet its self-imposed deadlines to have the three major pump stations on St. Croix back online and fully operational." He did not state what the deadlines are.

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