HANOVER TOWNSHIP – State environmental officials said 911 calls on Sunday afternoon led emergency officials in Luzerne County to a pipe leaking raw sewage into Solomon Creek.
Hanover Township crews and contractors were able to plug the rupture in the 27-inch line and bypass the sewage leak along Division Street around 1 a.m. on Monday.
Ed Hilla told Newswatch 16 that he lives downstream from the pipe rupture and noticed contaminated water where Solomon Creek runs through south Wilkes-Barre.
"It's obvious you look into the creek. It's right behind my house. The water is discolored, it's white and I can walk down the road and you can see where the pipe is busted and the sewage is coming right into the creek,” said Hilla.
Hanover Township Manager John Sipper told Newswatch 16 that crews have been keeping a close eye on the sewer line ever since Hurricane Irene caused flooding and backups in 2011.
"The pipe was stable at the time, but that's what brought attention to replace it. We have not had any complaints about odor or anything like that,” said Sipper. "We acted quickly, as quickly as possible on a Sunday afternoon to get it done, and make sure there was no sewage running into the creek once we were notified. Just be patient, it will totally be replaced.”
Sipper said an approval to bid out the project, to replace a 100-foot section of the terra cotta sewer line with a plastic pipe encased in concrete, was already on the agenda for Monday night’s township meeting before officials were notified about the leak.
According to Sipper, it’s too early to anticipate how much the replacement will cost because bids for the project aren’t expected until mid-February.
A spokesperson with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the sewage spill was significant, but that forecasted snow and rain should help Solomon Creek clean itself.