Town of Gibsland pump fails, spills raw sewage into storm drain

Town of Gibsland pump fails, spills raw sewage into storm drain

GIBSLAND, LA (KSLA) - People who live in Gibsland say they've been dealing with a very smelly situation. Neighbor we spoke with say this isn't the first time they've had pump problems and believe the problem is directly connected with the town's money issues. But town leaders claim this is issue is mechanical, not financial.

Raw sewage spilled into a storm drain for at least four hours Monday night. "It's an embarrassment," said Gibsland Resident Juanita Frye who lives across the street from the sewage pump. She says has that pump area has had a history of issues, "It's terrible having to live that close to something."

Neighbors watched as the sewage pump was taken away by a pump rental company without explanation on Monday.With the town under investigation for missing money, residents worried it was getting re-possessed.

But utility clerk, Vernita King says that's far from the truth. "They had to take the pump to go back and get another pump to replace it and that's where the misunderstanding came in," said King and adds the pump had been having issues since Friday. But she says the problems were mechanical and had nothing to do with the town's financial situation. "When you remove the pump, the sewage has to drain somewhere. It was not an excessive amount of waste, but it was waste and it has been cleaned," said King.

But Frye claims this isn't the first time, it's had issues. She says last spring, the pump had problems. She says the problem didn't get fixed until she called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last spring, who contacted town leaders. "After the EPA talked to them, they said they didn't have enough money to buy new pumps," said Frye.

The town now rents pumps, paying $1,600.00 a month. But Frye says it'll take permanent pumps to create a permanent solution. But according to King, the problem is fixed, "We'll keep an eye on it to make sure our residents are safe in Gibsland."

National Pump, the business that rents the pumps to Gibsland, says typically their pumps are used for temporary fixes. But the Town of Gibsland has been renting from them for the past 14 months. He says the reason why the pump malfunctioned most recently is because somebody flushed something large enough to break it.