Raw sewage cleanup begins near Sam’s Club

WARREN — Tom Dodrill was walking his beagle, Brandy, in the damp wooded area behind Sam’s Club on Monday when he smelled something funny.

“After working around sewage treatment plants, I know the smell of raw sewage,” Dodrill said.

A construction worker for Laborers International Union of North America Local 935, Dodrill has worked on sanitary infrastructure in the past.

Pipes in the woods behind the store on state Route 46 became blocked, allowing pressure to build up until it burst through a manhole cover, said Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith.

“It is bolted down now, the blockage is gone. The reason why it surged from the manhole cover because the pressure from the system filled up because of the blockage and so when the pressure built up enough, it blew the cover,” Smith said.

A crew from the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Office was able to flush out the blockage, which created a strip about 100 feet long and 8 inches deep of raw sewage. The smell on Tuesday morning, before the crew was deployed, was overpowering.

“The smell would have been worse in the summer,” Dodrill, of Niles, said.

Dodrill started making calls after he realized the mess he’d walked into.

The mess will be vacuumed out and lime will be placed over the affected areas, as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recommended, Smith said.

Dodrill said he is glad Brandy didn’t run into the sewage.

“If it doesn’t smell like rabbit, she doesn’t want anything to do with it,” Dodrill said.

It is unclear how long the sewage was seeping out of the manhole and onto the land.

“It’s just been sitting there, running into the creek, for who knows how long,” Dodrill said.

And, although Dodrill heard the area has a chronic issue, Smith was unable to confirm that.

The incident has Dodrill concerned about the proposed development, partially on the same wetlands, north of the Eastwood Mall. The area has several tributaries and different categories of wetlands connected to Mosquito Creek. The Cafaro Company proposes filling 16 acres of wetlands for the development, which would be home to a new Mercy Health hospital and other new structures and parking lots.

Although assessments filed with the Ohio EPA seem to declare the majority of the wetlands in the area aren’t vital habitats for any endangered or threatened species, and much of the wetlands on the property being considered for the Enterprise Park project aren’t considered the type that requires the most protection, Dodrill said he and others are worried the development will make drainage in the area worse than it is.

“Where will the water go? It has to go somewhere. And these areas over here already flood five, six, seven feet sometimes,” Dodrill said.

The Ohio EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed Enterprise Park project through Monday. They can be sent to epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov or in writing to: Ohio EPA-DSW, Attention: Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.