Scum on the Susquehanna

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NORTHUMBERLAND -- Frigid temperatures are causing all kinds of problems in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, and the Northumberland Sewer Authority is dealing with one of their own. Recently some equipment froze, causing scum to flow on top of the ice and into the Susquehanna River. Scum is a by-product of wastewater.

"Two of the units have stopped moving, so a little bit of that scum was traveling on top of the end of the river," Jeremy Deitrick said.

Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection took samples of the river water and sent them off for testing. The DEP gave the Northumberland Sewer Authority a violation, but authority superintendent Jeremy Deitrick says they are fixing the problem by heating the tanks.

Deitrick says no solid waste went into the Susquehanna River and only a minor amount of scum did.

"I would say there's maybe six inches of accumulation of frozen scum along the outside of it. If you go down the river, the river is clear, but there were a few traces downstream," Deitrick said.

People we spoke with at the nearby Shikellamy State Park are concerned about the scum seepage.

"Well, I think it's a shame. I don't like to see the river polluted," Pam Gordner said.

"The river goes all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay, so if there's contamination up here, there's obviously going to be some down there," Barbara Hoffman said.

Officials with the Northumberland Sewer Authority say there is no need to worry, both the authority and DEP are monitoring the problem closely. Officials say it will cost a little over $400 to fix.

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