Prevent sewer overflow through proper grease, debris disposal

8 Jan 2014 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Members of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Tarawa Terrace housing were recently affected by a sewage overflow of more than 9,000 gallons of waste water caused by grease and other objects being discarded down sink drains and toilets.
Although the spill was cleaned up quickly, base officials encourage residents to take measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
“With a densely populated area, you can have a buildup of grease and nonorganic material that clogs the system,” said Cmdr. Christopher Hodrick, the director of the Public Works Division aboard Camp Lejeune. “What predominantly caused it was cooking grease.”
Hodrick said while cooking grease is fluid, when it is hot, it congeals as it cools and can cause clogs in sewers.
“Just like your body has arteries that can clog with grease, so can the sewer system,” said Hodrick.
With nowhere for wastewater to pass, the excess overflowed through a manhole bordering a storm water pond at the intersection of Peleliu Drive and Tarawa Boulevard, said Hodrick.
The man-made pond is not used recreationally and is fenced off.
Members of the Tarawa Terrace community are encouraged to help prevent future sewer overflow by disposing of household debris and cooking grease in the trash.
“It’s a harm to the overall sewer system,” said Hodrick. “It can also clog within your house.”
Clogs in a household plumbing system can leave residents without use of sinks or toilets until maintenance personnel can fix the problem, said Hodrick.
Hot grease can also melt pipes, said Dixie Lanier, marketing manager with Atlantic Marine Corps Communities aboard Camp Lejeune. If a house faces extensive damage to the plumbing system, residents may be displaced for repairs.
“They could be held responsible for the damage caused,” said Lanier. “We want to make sure families are very careful and only flush toilet paper.”
Items such as baby wipes or other sanitary products should not be disposed of in the toilet, said Charles Scozzari, the collections supervisor with the Public Works Department.
“Out of sight, out of mind is not a good thing for plumbing systems,” said Scozzari.
Scozzari recommends a proactive approach to waste disposal to avoid future issues.

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