After equipment failures exacerbated by rain storms, millions of gallons of raw sewage and untreated runoff have flooded into Puget Sound (the United States’ second-largest estuary) from Washington state’s largest sewage treatment plant. Overall, about 30 million gallons of raw sewage have been dumped into Puget Sound over the course of three breakdowns at the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Since the spill, the waste has not undergone a secondary treatment that uses organisms to clean the waste, which is in violation of federal clean-water laws. It is estimated that it will cost $25 dollars to repair the damages so that the plant can run by the end of April.
This spill could have detrimental effects on marine life and public health due to the released chemicals and bacteria, but the spill is currently being sent through deep-water pipes, and Kimberle Stark of the marine monitoring program does not think the spill will lead to widespread damage of wildlife. Council members are investigating the causes of the equipment failure, and county officials have been testing for fecal bacteria and dissolved nutrients every week since the spill. All results have so far been normal.