Early morning flooding at Monteagle's new sewage treatment plant filled the facility's basement four feet deep with wastewater, potentially damaging equipment and leaving the town without sewer treatment capacity, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials said.
Agency spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said the incident happened overnight after heavy rains in the area. Electrical service has been cut off at the plant and the backup, meanwhile, could overflow manholes and pump stations in Monteagle, Lockhart said.
Local firefighters brought pumping equipment to the plant early today to pump wastewater from the basement onto the ground surrounding the plant because the treatment basins already are full, she said.
"The ground will be disinfected with lime once the rains stop and the basement is pumped dry," Lockhart said.
Workers will be able to re-enter the basement to assess damage once the basement is pumped out and the room disinfected, she said.
"Once a damage assessment has been made and it is deemed possible to restart the [sewage treatment plant] electrical service will be restored," she said. There was no timeline on reactivating the plant until after assessments are done.
Monteagle Mayor Marilyn Campbell Nixon said this morning that plant workers discovered the mess early today. The plant, just opened this summer, is under warranty, according to Nixon.
Officials have not yet determined whether any sewage made it into nearby Juanita and Trussell creeks, according to TDEC.
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