NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A contractor damaged a Norfolk treatment plant's tank Thursday afternoon, releasing partially treated wastewater into the Elizabeth River.
According to Nancy Munnikhuysen with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District, a contractor working at the HRSD's Virginia Initiative near Lamberts Point damaged the drain of a large tank filled with partially treated wastewater at 1:40 p.m.. She said the heavy equipment operator with PC Construction Company was excavating near the large tank when the drain pipe failed.
PC and HRSD crews were able to recover all but an estimated 70,000 - 100,000 gallons of the wastewater, which had not undergone disinfection, which is the final stage of treatment. Plant employees were able to add some disinfectant to the water that escaped, before it reached the Elizabeth River.
Residents were asked to avoid contact with the Elizabeth River from Lamberts Point to the Lafayette River for the next 24 hours.
Ada and Allen Lester paddled along the river Friday in a kayak, unaware of the leak.
"We hadn't heard about it. It's not good. They've done a good job cleaning up the river so it would be nice to keep it that way," Ada Lester said.
According to Munnikhysen, HRSD immediately contacted the Department of Environmental Quality and will provide a written report to DEQ in five days.
She did not have an estimated cost for cleanup.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.