SALEM - The East State Street Sewage Lift Station which failed Friday is working again with one pump, but city Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said the second pump needs repaired.
City utility workers discovered the problem during routine maintenance when they opened the hatch to the lift station and smoke came billowing out. The pump which sends waste to the city's sewage treatment plant from the east end of the city was not working and the lift station was filling with water, shorting out the electrical controls.
The city fire department was called to the scene due to the smoke and sent one firefighter into the hole using their confined space equipment and training to ensure it was safe for the city's electrician and utility workers to go into the hole to make repairs.
The lift station is located just off of the Pershing Street extension behind Marc's and Giant Eagle. Water had to be pumped out of the space before anyone could go down to check anything, with firefighters monitoring the level of methane, hydrogen sulfide (commonly known as sewer gas), carbon monoxide and oxygen in the air and ventilating the confined space before sending a firefighter down.
Weingart said the seal had broken on the now damaged pump, allowing the pump chamber to fill up with fluids.
"We were fortunate to get the pumps started," he said.
He explained that the pump with the broken seal has a serious vibration in the motor and will have to be pulled out and overhauled. He said they weren't sure what caused the problem.
While crews worked on the repairs, other workers hauled waste from the out-of-commission lift station and dumped it inside a manhole near Reilly Stadium so the flow could continue traveling out to the wastewater treatment plant. The waste was hauled for about five hours before the lift station was operational late Friday night.
Workers were called out over the weekend to check on the lift station and make sure it was still operating properly. Weingart said they're still calculating the cost of the overtime from Friday and the weekend, along with the cost of repairs.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org