News Briefs: Two Recent Deaths Underscore Importance of Plant Safety

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a wastewater spill in North Miami is causing concerns about its potential to spread COVID-19

Two recent accidents at water/wastewater treatment plants in Houston, Texas, and Tracy City, Tennessee resulted in deaths — both calling attention to the importance of safety on treatment facility grounds.

In Houston, an employee died after falling into a wastewater treatment plant tank. Officials say he was cleaning the tank, which was filled with water, when he fell in. Witnesses at the scene attempted to pull him out, but by the time paramedics arrived he had died.

In Tracy City, the Grundy County Herald reports that an employee for a vendor to a water treatment plant died during an accident involving chemicals.

In a written statement, city Mayor Nadene Moore says the accident occurred during the delivery of chemicals used for processing water. “Unfortunately, the accident resulted in injuries to an employee at the plant and also resulted in the loss of life for the individual delivering the products. The town expresses great sympathy for those affected by this tragedy.”

North Miami Wastewater Spill Raises Virus Concerns

WSVN News reports that a spill at a North Miami, Florida, wastewater treatment facility is causing concerns about its potential to spread COVID-19, as officials are reporting a high level of the virus is present in the wastewater.

Officials say about 1.8 million gallons of wastewater was spilled after heavy rainfall, largely thanks to clog caused by cleaning wipes and paper towels, possibly being used as alternatives to toilet paper amidst the shortage.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease professor at Florida International University, tells the news station there’s a concern about the virus with this particular spill. “There have been very large quantity of virus in the wastewater. It’s a real concern, and as long as there is virus circulating, it’s a way to continue the outbreak. The concern is if we have any kind of break in the sewage system or a failure or a spillage.”

Navajo Nation's Lack of Clean Water Fuels COVID-19 Crisis

In other news, reports are circulating that a lack of access to clean water in the Navajo Nation is fueling a COVID-19 crisis in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Between 15% and 40% of Navajo Nation households lack access to clean, running water. The Navajo have also historically been left out of water infrastructure projects due to its unique legal status, according to NPR.

In addition to that, contamination from mining in the region has left water supplies tainted and many Navajo people with pre-existing conditions that put them at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.


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