Fraser sinkhole: 1.5 million gallons of sewage fills repair trench

No injuries reported when about 9 feet of sewage fills trench

FRASER, Mich. - An incident overnight at the site of the 15 Mile Road sewer collapse repair project in Fraser caused about 9 feet of sewage to fill a repair trench at the site. 

The Macomb County Public Works Office said "an incident" occurred at the site sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. No one was in the trench at the time and no injuries were reported. 

The Public Works Office later explained they are investigating exactly what caused the sewage to flow into the trench.

Overall, about 1.5 million gallons of sewage filled the trench, the Public Works Office said. 

3 vehicles submerged in sewage

Three vehicles at the bottom of the 300-foot by 28-foot by 65-foot deep trench were completely submerged, according to the Public Works Office. One was a small tractor and another was an excavator. The third vehicle, dubbed the “bat-mobile,” is a specialized piece of equipment that was being used to insert the new pipe into the existing sewer line at the work site. It is uncertain when that vehicle will be able to be returned to working condition. The Public Works Office is figuring out an alternate plan. 

The top of an 8-foot tall ladder can be seen in the shadows of this photo taken about noon on Aug. 22, 2017.

Photo taken about noon on Aug. 22, 2017 shows about 6 feet of sewage water filling the bottom of the 300-foot by 28-foot repair trench along 15 Mile Road in Fraser.

"The sewage flowed into the trench from the downstream side of the sewage line. All of the sewage was contained in the repair trench. No sewage entered into the Clinton River or other local waters. The Macomb County Office of Public Works collected and tested 100 samples of water from the dewatering wells and other collection points around the trench and found no E.coli or other contaminants outside the trench," a statement from the Public Works Office reads.

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller called it a setback. 

"Obviously, this is a setback," said Miller. 'We are relieved first and foremost that no one was hurt and, equally, that there was no impact to the Clinton River. In fact, the recovery trench was actually designed in such a way that, if there was an incident like this, the trench would contain any sewage, which is exactly what happened here."

The Public Works Office released this 10 second video of the sewage in the trench on Wednesday: 

1.5 million gallons of sewage filled trench

Millers office said about 3,000 feet of the total 4,000 feet of pipe that was being put in place at the repair has already been installed. A new timeline estimate for completion of the new pipe installation will be developed over the next several days. They estimate about 1.5 million gallons of sewage filled the trench at one point.

As much as 9 feet of sewage filled the trench, but it then settled to about 6 feet. All of the sewage is expected to be pumped out of the trench by the end of the day Wednesday, the Miller's office said. 

Sewer line collapsed in December

Work on the sewer collapse along 15 Mile Road between Hayes and Utica roads has been ongoing since Dec. 24, 2016. That's when the collapse created a sinkhole beneath the neighborhood. 

Twenty families were forced out of their homes on Christmas Eve. In March, two homes over the sinkhole, which were condemned due to severe damage, were demolished.

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