Five million gallons of raw sewage went into the Naugatuck River recently.
As the cleanup continues and questions remain over why it happened, a man who's made it his mission to keep the river clean, has plenty of concerns.
Kevin Zak, with the Naugatuck River Revival Group, says anyone who comes down the river, at least for now, should do so at their own risk, as it is unclear just how much is left of the more than five million gallons of sewage that was released into the river earlier this month.
"I can't even imagine what it looked like on Oct. 9, where we are standing, I don't even want to go there,” Zak said.
Over the weekend, Zak, who's dedicated his last 12 years to cleaning this river, and even got married in it, took his camera and a drone to get an up close look, finding dead fish, sewage, and city workers picking out waste from the river.
“It’s a losing battle, hands and knees and they deserve a medal,” Zak said.
Waterbury's Water Pollution Control Plant says a subcontractor doing work cut an electrical line, and when the generators didn't kick in and with the tank overflowing, the city released the sewage into the river.
“There must have been utter panic at the plant, so you can't fault for that. Your toilet starts to back up, you're hoping it doesn't go over the top, we've all had that panic. But when it starts to overflow, what do you do,” Zak said.
Zak says he's glad the city and the state are investigating.
On Wednesday, crews were out collecting water samples and on Thursday Channel 3 spotted environmental contractors down by the river, but he says the communication needs to be better.
“What are the steps moving forward. This is a lesson and not just for Waterbury,” Zak said. “If there is a spill and it’s from a sewage treatment plant or a company that had a spill up river, there needs to be a system alerting town officials below and the public."
Zak says as bad as this is for Waterbury, Naugatuck and the towns immediately downstream, it’s not just a problem here, rather this will have far reaching consequences.
“It’s got to go somewhere and that's actually the lesson now because, now its cleaning itself out as we speak because of the rain, which is fortunate. But now it’s somebody else's problem down on Long Island Sound, a beach, a $10 million home is not immune to some of the stuff that may be washing up,” Zak said.
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