News Briefs: Lack of Oxygen Kills Sewer Worker Under Manhole

Also in this week's water and sewer news, the U.S. House of Representative passes the latest version of the Water Resources Development Act

A utility worker in Cape Coral, Florida, died while working underneath a manhole, according to a report by the News-Press. First responders say it may have been a result of encountering hydrogen sulfide.

Anthony Pimentel, 53, died while working to replace sewer and water lines. A spokesperson for the Cape Coral Fire Department told the News-Press via email there was not a gas leak in the hole. “I do not know exactly what gas was replacing the oxygen, as I don’t think we tested it, but the most common in these types of situations is hydrogen sulfide.”

Using a gas monitor, the department found 20 percent oxygen at the surface and only 13.1 percent at arm's length into a manhole.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA) — bipartisan legislation that provides for improvements to the nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration and other water infrastructure.

The legislation authorizes proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works activities and provides reforms to the corps.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster was among those who introduced the bill. “WRDA works because these are investments in the type of infrastructure that is vital to every American and every part of the country," he wrote in a press release. "The health of this infrastructure directly impacts how efficiently the things we buy get onto store shelves, how quickly the goods we produce get to markets around the world, how competitive our businesses and farmers are, and how effectively our communities are protected from floods.  I look forward to working with the Senate to send a final WRDA measure to the president that builds our water infrastructure, grows our economy, and creates jobs.”

The Senate is expected to look at its version of the legislation this summer. Last month, the upper chamber’s Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill.

The village of Three Oaks, Michigan, may force a distillery to move after officials claimed the business is releasing too much chemical discharge into the sewer system.

While the distillery’s owner admits the operation is violating an ordinance and chemical effluent is exceeding the amount allowed, he says the village is blaming the distillery for its outdated wastewater system.

“If they had been dredged (the lagoons), maintained over a long period of time, our level of discharge and strength would not be an issue at all,” the owner told WRAL News.

The distillery is the village’s largest employer, but village officials could soon put a halt on its alcohol production.

A mall in Benton, Michigan, with more than 40 businesses inside was temporarily closed after its water was shut off for nonpayment of bills.

The Orchards Mall was going to be auctioned, but its occupancy was revoked by the township after the water was shut off.

Benton Charter Township Superintendent Kelli Nelson told it’s unfortunate that the owner has placed mall tenants and the Benton Township in this position.


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