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Broken panel leads to sewage mess Fender bender causes Preston spill

Bernell Stigen vacuums up raw sewage from an overflowing manhole in the parking lot of Preston Industrial Park, as Shaun McKone, left and Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Department of Ecology discuss the problem. - Jenny Manning / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Bernell Stigen vacuums up raw sewage from an overflowing manhole in the parking lot of Preston Industrial Park, as Shaun McKone, left and Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Department of Ecology discuss the problem.
— image credit: Jenny Manning / Snoqualmie Valley Record

A control panel, apparently smashed by someone’s car, was the cause behind a raw sewage upwelling that began on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at the Preston Industrial Park. The overflow then ran into a storm drain several hundred feet away.

The Washington State Department of Ecology responded to the spill on Wednesday, Aug. 6. Sewage continued to burble out of a manhole in the parking lot until about 3 p.m. that afternoon, when Bernell Stigen of McNel Septic Service arrived to clean up the overflowing sludge and to determine the cause of the problem. Stigen said he responded to the scene after being contacted by Bernard Development, owner of the property, that afternoon.

Kevin Fitzpatrick and Shaun McKone of the Department of Ecology arrived shortly thereafter to investigate.

Under normal circumstances, the department would not respond to an issue related to the back- up of an on-site septic system. Instead, the call would be directed to the State Department of Health or King County Health. In this case; however, the raw sewage overflowed into a storm drain, potentially affecting state water.

Since the storm drain flows to a detention pond, responders determined that the spill did not pose an immediate threat of environmental damage, McKone said. The investigation was passed to the Department of Health. The damaged control panel, which was located in a parking area, was repaired the same day.

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