FORT EDWARD The Washington County sewage treatment plant discharged 1.2 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Hudson River on Wednesday because of a mechanical problem at the plant.
Joseph Brilling, director of Washington County Sewer District II, which operates a sewage treatment plant on Cortland Street, said the material was “not sewage” but was partially treated “effluent.”
“There’s no danger to anybody,” Brilling said.
Asked how far along in the treatment process the material was, Brilling replied “As far along as we could get it (Wednesday).” He said what caused the discharge was under investigation.
The spill was detailed on a state website set up this year that documents sewage plant problems so the information is more readily available to the public.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation was looking into the matter late Wednesday.
The discharge was one of two reported on a local stretch of the Hudson River this week. The Glens Falls wastewater treatment plant also sent 21,000 gallons of raw sewage into the river over the course of a few minutes during heavy rain on Tuesday.
Dan Shapley, water quality program manager for environmental watchdog Riverkeeper, which notified media of the spills Wednesday, said the Washington County plant has a years-long history of environmental issues.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website shows the plant was out of compliance for 10 of the last 12 quarters, including “significant” non-compliance during four of those quarters.
It also lists enforcement actions that included a $110,000 fine as part of a consent order with the DEC in 2012, which occurred after the plant repeatedly exceeded its capacity.
Shapley said aging sewage treatment plants are a big problem around the state.
“This plant is not alone, but is clearly in need of investments to prevent it fouling the Hudson River and potentially putting recreational users of the river at risk,” Shapley said.
The state records show the Glens Falls plant has had 26 discharges of untreated sewage into the Hudson River since 2013, most of them stemming from rainfall situations when stormwater runoff inundates the Shermantown Road plant.