CMC blames inmates for sewage spill
December 23, 2015
California Men’s Colony inmates caused a 72,000-gallon sewage spill by throwing trash in toilets, a CMC spokesman said. [Tribune]
On Dec. 18, raw sewage spilled at the Men’s Colony after a backup in a sewer line located on Camp San Luis Obispo property led to a rupture. Prison officials initially said 85,000 gallons of sewage spilled.
CMC spokesman Henry Cervantez said inmates will throw anything in the prison toilets. The trash that caused the sewer line to rupture included ketchup and mustard packets, trash bags, pieces of bed sheets and a set of dentures.
Laurie Salo, a supervisor with the San Luis Obispo County environmental health services department, said much of the sewage spilled was diverted down another sewer section. However, some of the sewage spilled into Chorro Creek, which flows to the Morro Bay Estuary.
The county environmental health services department estimates 6,000 gallons spilled into Chorro Creek. CMC’s business services department estimates about 10,000 gallons spilled into the creek.
Salo said rain helped dilute the sewage spill. The biggest threat as a result of the spill is direct exposure to bacteria, Salo said.
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is investigating the spill and determining what enforcement actions, if any, to take.
Matt Thompson, an engineer for the water board, said in 2005 that prisoners would flush blankets down toilets in attempt to cause a sewage spill. They would use blankets as weapons against the prison, Thompson said.
Jeff Appleton, a supervisor at the CMC sewage treatment plant, is a former chief plant operator at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District. Appleton was chief plant operator in 2010 when between 380,000 to 3 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Oceano neighborhoods, beaches and the Pacific Ocean.