HAMILTON, ONT. – Hamilton’s mayor has called for an investigation after city staff discovered that a pipe had been dumping sewage into the local harbour undetected for 26 years.
Andrea Horwath said she’s asked the city auditor to be brought in after a preliminary investigation of the leak suggested a contractor put a hole in the pipe in 1996.
“I am concerned about the environmental impacts of this spill, and while we are not yet aware of the total volume of sewage released, I have been informed that it was substantial,” Horwath wrote in a statement released Tuesday.
“I was assured that the nature of the spill makes the risk to human health very low.”
Horwath said she has asked the city auditor to investigate how the spill was able to persist for more than 20 years without detection.
“I expect that when that report is completed, it will be publicly released,” she said.
The city said in a written statement that the pipe involved services about 50 properties, which have been flushing directly into the Hamilton Harbour. It said the leak was discovered in a stretch of pipe near Burlington Street and Wentworth Street North by staff doing separate maintenance work.
It said it believes a contractor made the hole in the pipe under the impression that “all pipes were storm sewers” designed to connect to culverts spilling into the harbour.
The city said it took short-term action to stem the flow of sewage from the leak.
Once its assessment is finished, the city said it will publicly report how much sewage the pipe has dumped.
“Residents in the area can expect to see a high level of activity in the area over the next few days with trucks and other vehicles as staff work to mitigate the current leak and begin work to make the necessary repairs,” said the city statement.
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