UPDATED WITH VIDEO: ‘Catastrophic Failure’ of Nantucket sewer system; raw sewage flowing into Nantucket Harbor

NPD Photo

NANTUCKET –Nantucket’s sewage system has experienced what is being called a “catastrophic failure,” with raw sewage now flowing into Nantucket Harbor.

Town officials were notified of the break just after 8 p.m. Thursday night, as the Nor’easter was roaring off the coast.

An inspection by the Sewer Department discovered failure of the sewer force main on South Beach Street.

Island health officials said discharge of untreated sewage into the harbor is ongoing at this time, however the sewer system is still functioning island-wide.

The cause of this break is still undetermined, but it’s expected it was either storm or cold related.

State and federal agencies were immediately notified of the situation and town departments have been on site working with local and state partners to contain and resolve the situation.

Once the break is repaired, clean up actions will be taken in consultation with the Department of Public Health, Department of Environmental Protection, and Division of Marine Fisheries.

The following streets will remain closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic until further notice:

Easy Street, Cambridge Street, Oak Street, S. Beach Street, S. Beach Extension, Still Dock, Whalers Lane, and Sea Street. S. Beach Street is blocked at Easton Street. Harbor View Way remains open with access via Easton Street but exiting traffic to Easton Street only. Access to the Steamship Authority is limited until they resume service. Two-way traffic is established on S. Water Street from the American Legion on Washington Street to Broad Street. No parking along S. Water Street and Washington Street until further notice. The Town is requesting the public to avoid these areas to allow workers to fix the situation.

The Town continues to manage the catastrophic failure of the sewer force main with its local partners. At approximately 11:15 AM the Town’s contractor, Robert B. Our, was airlifted to the island on a National Guard helicopter from Joint Base Cape Cod due to the cancellation of all ferry service. Around 11:45 AM, this crew, with the assistance of the Town’s Sewer and Public Works Departments, began excavating around the Sea Street Pump Station area to determine the cause of the breach and to reroute the pump station to another sewer force main. Crews will be working 24-hour shifts until the repairs are completed.

The Town remains in communication with state departments on regular update calls. The Massachusetts Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, and the Division of Marine Fisheries are committed to supporting the Town to best manage this situation with resources and expedited services. The Town has requested emergency procurement waivers from the Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to ensure the most rapid and effective response for resources.

Street and parking restrictions remain in place around downtown until further notice.

The Town continues to request that the public refrain from visiting the site of the sewer break to avoid creating a public health hazard and to allow construction crews to work unimpeded.

The fishery remains closed to shell fishing until the repairs are completed and the Town, Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Department of Public Health can evaluate the affected areas.

Although all sewer and water service remains unaffected the Town requests that the public limit their water use as much as possible to limit the volume of activity.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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