Contractor: Waterbury sewage dump could have been avoided

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WATERBURY --  A contractor admits his company accidentally cut a live power cable at the Waterbury sewage plant, but he says it's the city's fault for the five million gallon sewage dump into the Naugatuck River.

The remnants of the sewage dump were very visible, until Tuesday's heavy rains washed it away.

"It's an awful, awful mess," said Stephen Belanger, Vice President, of Central Connecticut Cable, Co.

Personnel for his company accidentally cut the live power cable.

"It sent a surge to our electrical equipment and the breakers were damaged," said Denis Cuevas, General Manager of the Waterbury Water Pollution Control.

Cuevas says it took roughly four hours from the time the cable was cut to determine they had to cut loose the sewage so that the plant wouldn't flood.

"We saw a manhole that was starting to surcharge," said Cuevas.

Belanger said that trouble could have been avoided hours earlier.

"We turned around and said 'OK we know how to fix it. We can have this fixed and back online in an hour.,'" said Belanger.

But, Cuevas says he was never presented with that option. And he disputes Belanger's claim that the recently serviced generators were malfunctioning.

"Because this was not a normal power outage, the generators didn't turn on," said Cuevas, who noted that the plants two generators were just serviced at the beginning of August.

"I just feel that the people that were there didn't know what to do," said Belanger.

Cuevas says the city is looking at its legal options.

"There's definitely a mistake that they indicated that they made," he noted "So, all of this was because of that mistake."

State environmental officials say that the Naugatuck River, south of the sewage treatment plant, should now be safe for recreational fishing. But those catching fish are advised not to eat their catch, out of an abundance of caution.