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Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
Date: August 20, 2015
Contact: Doug Bear, Public Communications Manager
360.337.4598 or
No: 2015-087

County releases incident report regarding recent sewer spills

(Kitsap County, WA) - Kitsap County Public Works released an incident report today concluding its investigation into two recent sewer spills in Dyes Inlet. The first spill, July 30, discharged about 40,000 gallons into the inlet when the contractor for the Bucklin Hill bridge project inadvertently hit the county’s sewer force main while removing an existing stormwater drain adjacent to it. The second spill occurred five days later when a mechanical line stop installed to create a bypass of the sewer main within the construction zone partially failed. About 16,000 gallons were discharged into the inlet during that incident.

“We are very concerned by the impact that these incidents had on the local natural environment and the citizens of Kitsap County,” said Public Works Director Andrew Nelson. “We execute all work and ensure contracted work is in compliance with applicable law, best management practices for construction activities and within a mind-set for responsible public service,” said Nelson.

Granite Construction, the prime contractor for the bridge project, is the responsible party for all construction activity on the project site. Granite Construction and its subcontractors were performing utility work that led to both spills and are responsible for the incidents, required cleanup and repairs, and all costs incurred by Kitsap County.

County crews responded quickly to the first incident. Staff shut pump stations down, mobilized tanker trucks to haul sewage past the break point, controlled flows on both sides of the break and completed repairs to the punctured force main. Granite Construction used their environmental spill response subcontractor to direct the cleanup operation and conduct tests for on-site contamination. County crews returned the system to normal operations by 7:30 that evening.

County crews also responded quickly to the second event. Pump stations were shut down to control flow into the area of the mechanical failure. County tanker trucks and additional contracted tankers were brought to the site to meet flow demands during the repair. This enabled the County to contain the initial spill, limiting the amount of sewage discharged to the inlet. Granite Construction installed permanent gate valves and removed the line stops by 6:00 pm. County crews returned the pump stations to normal operations shortly after that.

“I am proud of the professional response by the County sewer utility crews and staff to both incidents, said Nelson.” “Their knowledge and experience with this system and quick actions on site reduced the potential spill amount, ensured the safety and integrity of the sewer system, and prevented any disruption in service to the public.”

The Kitsap Public Health District issued no-contact advisories for the inlet immediately after the first spill. During a no-contact advisory, the public is advised to avoid contact with the water in the affected area. This means no swimming, wading, or types of water play where water could be swallowed or get in the mouth, nose or eyes.

There was an ongoing recreational shellfish harvesting closure already in effect in parts of Dyes Inlet, but due to the spill, all shellfish harvesting (including commercial) in Dyes Inlet and Port Washington was closed. The advisories related to the spills were lifted August 11.

“Protecting our environment and providing safe and healthy communities are two of the key vision statements we embrace in Kitsap County,” said County Commissioner Ed Wolfe. “I live on the Inlet, enjoy local seafood and beaches with my family. When these incidents occurred, like everyone in our community, I was concerned and wanted corrective actions to happen immediately,” said Wolfe. “Our Public Works Department responded quickly to limit the potential impact and instituted measures so this won’t happen again,” Wolfe added.

The County has given the contractor several directives to help prevent another spill. Pre-planning meetings with staff from Public Works, the onsite management team from Exeltech and Granite Construction are to be held prior to any significant construction activity involving or adjacent to any utility on site. Granite Construction will implement and complete a daily Pre-excavation Checklist to review all utility locations in vicinity of excavation work and inform the operators of required actions to avoid impacting the utility.

Granite Construction is reaffirming utility locates and completing any additional potholing to confirm location and elevation of existing utilities. Granite Construction will use hand excavations to fully expose and physically mark any live utilities that are relatively close to newly installed work. Granite will also use this information to select appropriate equipment to execute work.

Public Works is adding construction inspection staff to the current on-site inspection team during periods of significant construction activity or increased exposure of risk to utilities or other critical items of work.

The Public Works Sewer Utility construction management staff will attend on-site construction progress meetings to monitor construction activity, provide information on sewer utility structures and operations impacted by the project, and coordinate any activity that may impact the sewer utility.

“Dyes Inlet, the fish, and the habitat are fragile. Ensuring the public’s health and enjoyment of this Inlet is also paramount. The County takes these events seriously and we believe the measures now in place will prevent additional incidents,” said Wolfe.

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Last Updated: 
August 20, 2015