From: Mat Probasco, Associated Press
Published April 10, 2006 12:00 AM

Pipe Break Spews Sewage into U.S. Virgin Islands Harbor

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — A pipe break has spilled millions of liters (gallons) of raw sewage near a residential area in the U.S. Virgin Islands, officials said Friday.

Officials warned people to stay away from a 1.5-kilometer-long (mile-long) stretch of beach and out of the sea at a harbor near Christiansted, a city on the north side of the island of St. Croix.

"There was a river of sewage going all down past the housing project there and down to the beach. It was a mess," said Aaron Hutchins, an environmental expert with the U.S. Caribbean territory's Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

The break, discovered Thursday, forced officials to reroute the wastewater through an emergency bypass pipe outside the harbor, public works spokeswoman Stella Saunders said. Repairs were expected to be completed Monday.

Officials did not know why the pipe broke, but estimated nearly 10 percent of the sewage pipes in St. Croix were at risk of breaking or need replacement.

The pipe that broke usually transports 4.5 million liters (1.2 million gallons) of wastewater a day.

Since 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined the territory's government more than US$2.7 million (euro2.2 million) for not complying with the Federal Clean Water Act because it failed to meet repair deadlines.

U.S. officials first cited the territory for having inadequate treatment plants in 1984.

Source: Associated Press

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