SCHWENKSVILLE — As much as 5,000 gallons of sewage sludge spilled from the Schwenksville sewage treatment plant into the Perkiomen Creek two weeks ago, 21st Century Media has confirmed.
The spill occurred on Sept. 19 and the incident is being investigated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, according to DEP spokeswoman Deborah Fries.
Because the matter is under investigation, Fries said she could not disclose very much information, but did say that so far, the investigation indicates the spill was accidental.
Tom Courduff, the manager of the Schwenksville Borough Authority, said the spill was the result of a valve at the plant’s “digester” not being closed all the way.
The valves are manual valves, he said.
Courduff said the plant operators “self-reported” the spill to DEP as being 5,000 gallons, but added, “frankly I don’t think it was that much.”
The material spilled into the creek, the largest tributary of the Schuylkill River — which is a drinking water source for millions of Philadelphians — was classified as “partially digested sludge,” Courduff said.
He said an environmental clean-up contractor used a vacuum truck to remove the sludge and process it back through the plant.
When the sewage from the plant is processed, it releases decontaminated water back into Perkiomen Creek and the sludge that remains is trucked to Pottstown’s Wastewater Treatment Plant for further processing and drying.
The plant is operated by the Schwenksville Borough Authority.
Water and sewer services are provided by the authority to all of Schwenksville borough, as well as parts of Lower Frederick and Perkiomen townships — more than 1,700 customers over all, according to the authority’s web page
The authority’s water source is five municipal wells located throughout Schwenksville Borough and Lower Frederick Township, and an interconnection with Aqua PA and an emergency Interconnection with the North Penn Water Authority.