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Popular shellfish beds reopen after sewage spill

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GROTON -- At Bluff Point State Park, white signs are out signaling the bay is back open for business after fishermen like Donald Morris were cast out.

"I was here a few days ago and the security guard or police officer stopped me," said Morris. "Yea, it put a wrench in my plans."

The waters and shellfish beds were off-limits for more than a week because of a raw sewage spill at Groton Utilities' Twin Hills pump station.

Richard Stevens, manager of the company's water and wastewater, said a large pipe broke.

"Seven feet down we found a horizontal, ten inch, duct iron pipe that had broke around it (which we call a ring break) and had fractured laterally," Stevens said.

Pointing to a map, he showed the changed route of the wastewater.

"There was a leak in this force main causing the water to flow southerly," said Stevens, who explained that the reversed course meant as much as 6,000 gallons of raw sewage seeped toward shellfish beds.  

Stevens said that meant all hands on deck at Groton Utilities and an immediate call to Connecticut's Department of Environmental and Energy Protection.

State regulators shut the area around Bluff Point State Park down to test water and meat samples as a precaution. Those results take some time, explaining the extended closure, but they eventually revealed that bacteria levels were acceptable.

Experts from Connecticut's Bureau of Aquaculture tell FOX Connecticut that sewage snafus shutdown shellfish beds at least once a month across that shoreline.

In Groton, Stevens said that is rare.

"This probably has not occurred in probably 10 years," said Stevens, referring to a large pipe leak. 

That's better news for Morris, though it delayed his plans. He was in the area fishing on Thursday for bait, in hopes to catch something bigger upriver for a feast later this weekend.

"Can't go wrong with a little bit of fish and grits in the morning, haha" Morris said.