Repairs Underway After Break Causes 2 Million Gallon Sewage Spill Into Nantucket Harbor

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Workers on Nantucket hope to make progress Sunday on repairing a massive sewer main break near the town's intersection of South Beach Street and Broad Street, according to a press release.

Since Thursday, the break has caused two million gallons of untreated sewage to flow into Nantucket Harbor.

The town decided to keep the pipe open to prevent any sewage backups into homes that could cause a widespread health threat.

Nantucket Director of Public Health Roberto Santamaria said this weekend’s brutal cold is difficult for crews to work in, but in at least one way, it’s a help.

“The bacteria from the sewage that’s coming out can’t survive in this cold, so we’re not too worried about any sort of health contamination,” Santamaria said.

Sewer and water service for residents remains unaffected, but the town is asking that the public limit their use for now.

“People have been a little bit better at conserving water, so the flow has slowed down,” he said.

Although the flow is still entering the harbor, Santamaria said, catch basins are being used to filter out solid materials.

“We are screening out the solid waste - all the solid things like baby wipes, toilet paper, things like that."

The health department won’t know what caused the break until they can get a better look at it.

"We do not have any estimates on when the permanent fix will be completed," he added. "We need to do damage assessment [to see] if it has compromised any of the other infrastructure."

The Natural Resources Department is monitoring the Harbor for any shellfishing issues caused by the spill.

“Shellfishing is closed as of now, except for the scallops, because you only eat the adductor muscle. If you’re only eating the muscles, the scallop is still safe to eat,” Santamaria explained.

With reporting by WBUR's Paul Connearney and Ashley Bailey.





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