September 26/2001

Toronto Star

Sewage entered river for weeks

KINGSTON (CP) – Ontario’s environment ministry has launched an investigation into a sewer spill that sent toilet waste into the Cataraqui River for weeks.

Regional supervisor Allan Sudds said the matter has been assigned for investigation, but declined to say anything further about the probe, which could lead to pollution-related charges.

Excrement and identifiable toilet waste could be seen bubbling to the surface last week in a creek that feeds into the river. A foul smell permeated the air.

Lab tests done by the Environmental Bureau of Investigation, a citizen-led watchdog group, showed water samples taken from the creek at the mouth of the sewer pipe had 1,500 times the E. coli levels allowed at public beaches.

Ministry official John Allen said the ministry drew samples Sept. 4, but results of lab analysis weren’t yet available.

Maintenance crews were able to fix the problem when they found a blockage in a sanitary sewer line and an underground structure that allowed waste to flow into the storm line, the city said in a release issued Sept. 21.

Allen visited the site before the repairs on Sept. 19 and said he was surprised by what he saw.

He suspected some waste also may have come from industrial sources.

He said he became aware of the spill Aug. 29, when he ordered the city to fix the problem.