The search continues to find the cause of an explosion over the weekend at the Brewer Cove, ME, wastewater pump station, officials said.
“This past Saturday, we had an explosion at the Brewer Cove pump station,” said Kenneth Locke, Director of the Environmental Department for the City of Brewer.
The blast was so powerful it blew off the cover to a manhole, and completely shattered the top to the pump station. It broke a lock off the cover of the pump, sent it and other debris 75 feet around the area.
The explosion set off a fire alarm at the waste water treatment facility and workers were able to get to the pump within minutes, officials said.
“When the operator drove down into the area, down where the pump station is, and saw all the damage he immediately called his supervisor,” Locke said.
No one was hurt in the incident. Both the fire and environmental departments responded to the scene. Locke said to his knowledge this incident is a first in Maine.
“Explosions in a sewer system or in a pump station or even at a treatment plant is unusual. There might be just about a handful of them nationwide during the course of a year,” said Locke.
Saturday’s explosion went off not long after someone was at the pump station, Locke said.
“We actually had an operator check it in the morning around 7:30 a.m. and everything seemed to be okay,” Locke said.
The pump station is up and running but there’s extensive damage.
“Might be up to $40,000 by the time we get done with completing all the repairs,” he said.
This pump station collects waste water from about a third of the city. Locke said when the pump came on, there must have been a spark on the panel causing the combustible that was in the sewer system to ignite. He said they’re not sure how a flammable substance got into the network.
“We’ve monitored the air inside the collection system. We’ve took some soil samples, we took some air samples. We’ve taken some air samples,” said Locke.
The cause remains under investigation.