Massive Weekend Sewage Spill in Northport, Officials Stress Fire Safety This 4th of July

Jul 4, 2016

Black Warrior River

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Black Warrior Riverkeeper are investigating after the city of Northport dumped tens of thousands of gallons of sewage into nearby waterways over the weekend.

The City of Northport issued a statement Saturday saying four pumping stations had to be shut down to make an emergency repair to the main sewage pipeline. That eventually caused overflows at all four stations, and city officials estimate around 100,000 gallons of wastewater drained into local creeks and the Black Warrior River.

Officials say the city’s drinking water is not affected, but are advising against swimming or fishing near the overflow points. Temporary repairs were completed Saturday night and the sewage system has returned to normal operation.

The Black Warrior Riverkeeper criticized the city’s response to the spill, saying they should have issued health advisories and ensured the community was aware. The only information provided was a post on the city’s Facebook page.

Before shooting off fireworks or lighting up grills this Independence Day, the Alabama Forestry Commission wants to remind Alabamians to use proper fire safety precautions. APR student reporter Katie Willem has more.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is urging Alabamians to use caution this Fourth of July.

Forestry officials have made several recommendations for fire safety precautions. One is to avoid shooting fireworks in or near areas that may have combustible materials. Another is to have a source of water nearby when fire is being used.

Fire Operations Chief Balsie Butler says moisture levels in soil samples from across the state show all of Alabama is at an equal risk.

If a fire does start, the Forestry Commission recommends not fighting the fire by yourself. You should call 911 instead and wait in a safe place for the arrival of the fire department.

The July Fourth weekend is wrapping up, and that means heavy traffic is likely.

Roughly forty three million people are expected to be traveling across the country during this holiday weekend. Motorists are being urged to take precautions and prepare safety kits before embarking on their holiday trips.

Clay Ingram is a spokesman for AAA Alabama. He says motorists should have safety kits handy containing things like tools, jumper cables, duct tape, and other items.

“Bottled water’s always a good idea to have with you, just in case you find yourself in a situation where you need some of that and don’t have any other means to acquire it. So think about some things, whether it’s medications or something for the kids to do, in case you get stranded somewhere. Just anything that might come in handy for you.”

Ingram says AAA is offering a public service program, the Tow-for-Life service, during the July Fourth weekend. The service serves to promote safety and is free to everyone within the first 10 miles of towing. Afterward, Ingram says the service will charge similar to a taxi service.