Environmental, Health Concerns as 60M Gallons of Sewage Leak into Waterways

Two weeks after Sandy flooded the Bay Park sewage treatment plant in East Rockaway, sewage that has only been partially treated continues to pump into the Rockaway Channel, according to Nassau County officials.

"The raw sewage that is going into the plant is being treated, it's being chlorinated," said Nassau County Ed Mangano. "But the secondary systems are down."

Before the storm, the plant was pumping water that had been fully treated, said Mangano. But because so many of the plant's pumps were compromised when nine feet of water gushed on to shore during Sandy, the raw sewage had to be diverted in order to prevent it from going into people's homes.

On Oct. 31, two days after Sandy hit the area, NBC 4 New York was in the Bay Park section of East Rockaway where the effects of the damaged plant were first seen. Raw sewage gushed up from the streets like fountains and it rose up in residents' basements.

To prevent a health hazard, Mangano ordered the raw sewage to be diverted into Rockaway Channel.

While the sewage is now partially treated, this could have lasting effects on the environment. The Bay Park plant treats the waste of approximately 550,000 homes in Nassau County. The area is defined east of Queens, south of the Long Island Expressway and ends at the Meadowbrook Parkway.

Mangano says the county has the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers at the plant, actively creating temporary cleansing stations while they rebuild the plant. Part of the restoration will include creating new ways to make the plant flood-proof.

There is no time table for when the plant will be fully operational but Mangano says that could take six months to a year.

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