News Release 008

Mechanical malfunction results in Lebanon sludge overflow

Volume 38-008 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., JAN. 8, 2010 -- A mechanical malfunction in a holding basin resulted in the release of an estimated 40,000 gallons of sludge Wednesday from the municipal wastewater treatment facility in Lebanon, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reported today.

An unspecified mechanical malfunction resulted in the overflow of the plant's sludge wasting basin, allowing sludge to escape the plant into an unnamed tributary of the Dry Auglaize Creek and eventually into the creek itself.

The overflow was noticed by plant personnel at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and was stopped at 7:45 a.m. It began some time after staff left for the day Tuesday evening, but the specific time is unknown. The city reported the incident Wednesday morning to the Department of Natural Resources' Southwest Regional Office in Springfield, which dispatched inspectors to the site to determine the extent of environmental damage to the creek.

The flow of the sludge was stopped in the Dry Auglaize Creek, and work began Wednesday to pump the sludge from the creek back into the treatment plant.

Treatment plant sludge typically consists of solid particles that have settled out of wastewater during the treatment process. It is usually applied to land as fertilizer or disposed of at a landfill.

The department considers discharges of sludge from sanitary sewer collection systems to be significant threats to public health and the environment. Such discharges can contaminate lakes and streams, causing serious water quality problems.

Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by mechanical failure, obstructions in sewer lines, infiltration of rainwater and snow melt into aging systems or undersized systems that cannot compensation for sudden increases in wastewater.

Communities across Missouri produce millions of gallons of wastewater that must be properly transported and treated before being released to waterways. However, some communities are facing challenges in accomplishing this.

In order to protect public health and the environment, the department requires communities to take appropriate action to eliminate their sanitary sewer overflow issues. To do this, communities should develop a system to track information about such incidents, including the date, time, location and size of the overflow, weather data, who notified them, when they notified the department and the measures taken to respond. The community can then use this data to aid in developing a plan to inspect the collection system, and plan and finance system upgrades.

For more information on sanitary sewer overflows or other water quality issues, contact the Department of Natural Resources' Water Protection Program at 573-751-1300 or 800-361-4827 or visit the department website at

To report an environmental emergency, including sewage overflows, please contact the DNR spill line at 573-634-2436. For more information contact the department at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-3443, or visit the department's Web page at