Gatlinburg Sewer Plant Update
Click on images for larger image
Major Sewer Plant Accident In Gatlinburg
By John Disque
Image by Jeaneane Payne
A sewer plant holding tank malfunctioned and busted loose around 9:00 a.m. in Gatlinburg, TN causing millions of gallons of sewage to pour directly into the Little Pigeon River.
Two workers from the plant have been reported missing and all fears suggest that they've been swept into the river.
Officials in the area are calling the accident "a catastrophe" and added that all primary concern and focus is on finding the missing workers.
Details of the accident are not official and, at this point, information is still coming in. Spokespeople for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are assuring the media and the public that all information will be released as soon they have more details.
Gatlinburg officials are asking the public to stay away from the area until the water is tested and more is known about the health and safety issues.
First estimates were 1.4 millions gallons, but sources say it could be as much as 3.5 million gallons.
Speculation from Daily Sun sources is that the hydraulic capacity was exceeded due to a rain event and an increase in tourism this time of year. The plant was designed to process only 5 million gallons of sewage per day. As rain comes in and overfills it, it can burst.
Given that the infrastructure in Sevier County is very outdated and heavy rains have fallen this season, an accident of this proportion was not out of the question.
The plant has been shut down and right now the cause for the malfunction is unknown.
More details will be released as soon as the information comes in.
Published April 5, 2011, 4:12 p.m.