In the early evening of March 16, 2010 an unknown pump malfunction caused wastewater treatment plumbing at the Denver Airport to accidentally discharge raw sewage and industrial wastewater into various waterways. At this time officials believe as many as 1,000,000 gallons of untreated wastewater may have gotten released towards the Barr Lake fishery and bird sanctuary.

Emergency alarms at the wastewater treatment facility did not, for some reason, get noticed until the next morning.

DENVER (AP) — A mechanical failure at Denver International Airport sent up to 1 million gallons of raw sewage and industrial wastewater into creeks and canals flowing toward the Barr Lake fishery and bird sanctuary.

Airport spokesman Jeff Green says the spill appears to have started about 7 p.m. Tuesday when a pump malfunctioned. He says employees didn’t notice a backup alarm. Maintenance crews made the discovery Wednesday morning. The reason for the malfunction is unclear.

Tri-County Health Department environmental health director Tom Butts says it wasn’t immediately clear whether any contamination made it off airport property.

Airport, state and county health officials were testing the water to determine if there is a health or environmental threat. ( source )

Accidents happen. Malfunctions happen. This time it happened at an airport, a place required to report pretty much any and every encroachment on the environment. Think about this, though… Do you think privately held companies report ALL of their environmental blunders and stick around to clean them up?

Stories about accidental sewage discharges or other dumpings of wastewater deemed illegal may not always make the news. That means you may not always hear or know about them and in some cases that may also mean no one felt obligated to do anything about them… ‘cuz if no one outside the offending company found out about the spill, then no one can make the offending company spend the money needed to clean up the mess.

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