Six months after Hurricane Sandy left parts of the East Coast leveled and underwater, killed 159 people and caused at least $70 billion in damage, a new report reveals yet another dimension of the destruction: 11 billion gallons of partially or untreated sewers leaked into rivers, lakes and waterways in the aftermath of the storm.
Climate Central assessed data from a variety of state agencies, municipal governments, plant operators and the EPA for its analysis. Results indicate record-setting storm surges that flooded major sewage treatment accounted for 94 percent of that spilled sewage at facilities in and around New York City and throughout New Jersey. Eighteen of the 20 largest spills ended up in these two states, as did the four individual sewage overflows of more than 1 billion gallons each.
Other key findings:
– The amount of sewage overflow during Sandy, 11 billion gallons, is equivalent to the entire area of Central Park — 843 acres/1.4 miles — stacked 41 feet high with sewage, more than 50 times the BP oil spill. 32 percent of the overflow was untreated sewage.
– New York City reported six sewage spills larger than 100,000,000 gallons, and 28 larger than 1 million gallons.
– Long Island faced large spills from the Bay Park facility. When the plant was knocked out of service for 44 hours during the storm, roughly 100,000,000 gallons of untreated sewage overflowed into Long Island’s Hewlett Bay. Another 2.2 billion gallons of partially treated sewage flowed through the plant during the 44 days it took to fully restore operations.
– In Westchester County, 49,000,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed through the Yonkers treatment plant during 14 hours at the peak of the storm. Another 1.2 billion gallons of partially treated sewage flowed through the plant in the 4 weeks after the storm.
– New York authorities estimate it will cost nearly $2 billion to repair flood damaged sewage treatment facilities.