3K Gallons End up in Town Sewer

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, October 24, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON — The town’s sewer treatment plant was the unexpected recipient of 3,000 gallons of raw latex from a spill that occurred last weekend at Foss Manufacturing.

Town Manager Fred Welch said the issue is being investigated by the state Department of Environmental Service, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Hampton Police Department.

“We are just trying to find out what we can, who knew what and when and take the appropriate actions from that point,” said Police Chief Jamie Sullivan.

The chief said police were notified by the Public Works Department to determine if it were a criminal act or not.

“There was nothing routine about the amount of stuff that came in,” Sullivan said. “It’s pretty unusual. There are a number of laws that relate to spilling of chemicals that we will have to look into. It’s not something we deal with everyday.”

A medium-sized hot tub holds about 1,000 gallons of water, for comparison.

Sullivan said he could not offer any further details as it is an ongoing investigation. Welch said he could not comment on what caused the spill and whether it was on purpose. “I can’t tell you at this point, because I don’t know,” Welch said.

Foss Manufacturing representatives directed all inquiries to Jim Magruder.

“It was an unfortunate mistake that is still being investigated,” Magruder said. “We are cooperating fully with the town of Hampton and the town engineers.”

Magruder said Foss is conducting its own investigation. When asked if he thought someone did it deliberately, he said, “I have not idea.”

Raw latex, Magruder said, is used as part of the manufacturing process to coat some of the materials Foss makes for the automobile industry.

Public works officials, the EPA and DES, are monitoring the spill to make sure it doesn’t impact the wastewater treatment plant.

“There is no danger, except at the out fall end which is the plant,” Welch said. “Currently, it has not caused failure of the plant.”

The spill has resulted in numerous DES violations.

“I don’t think we will be fined because we didn’t create the violations,” Welch said. When asked whether Foss would be responsible for any damages Welch said, “I would suspect so.”

Welch said he has never seen a spill of this nature. “Not of this magnitude,” he said. “Normally a spill is minor. It’s not over 1,000 gallons of material or product.”