Fall River discusses partially treated wastewater overflowed into Mount Hope Bay

FALL RIVER, R.I. (WLNE) –The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said 10 million gallons of partially treated wastewater overflowed into Mount Hope Bay over the weekend from Fall River. Now, city officials are addressing the incident.

The city of Fall River notified the Department of Environmental Management Sunday that a main circuit breaker at the city’s wastewater facility shorted at about midnight.

This issue resulted in wastewater bypassing the plant’s pump, prompting sewer overflow.

The problem has since been fixed.

Paul Ferland, the administrator of community utilities, said because the wastewater flowed into Mount Hope Bay, the Department of Environmental Management is putting a seven day hold on the bay.

“There are shellfish beds within Mount Hope Bay. I believe the regulatory agencies are putting in their cautions as they see fit, as they would with any type of CSO discharge from a permanent CSO or nonpermanent SSO,” said Ferland.

The Department of Environmental Management closed a section of the Kickemuit River and Mount Hope Bay.

Michael Healey, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Management, said they will test the water within the next week to make sure it’s safe to shellfishing.

“If there is a spill that could potentially affect a shellfish growing area, we don’t want diggers,” said Healey. “Digging in that spot and then somehow getting those clams into the food system.”

However, he said they don’t expect any kind of lasting damage to wildlife because Mount Hope Bay is an estuary.

“It basically means it’s a tidal region, so tides come and go all the time, or every six hours there, and the tidal forces are very strong,” Healey explained. “The discharged water has already dispersed and it’s probably well on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Ferland said there was no damage at the Fall River Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility and that they’re having a private company come in to inspect the breaker.

Categories: News, Rhode Island