Seward Beach Trash Traced To Prison

One of Seward’s city-owned sewage lagoon is currently drained and non-functioning, according to a city schedule for maintenance. And that has caused a problem.

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One of Seward’s city-owned sewage lagoons is currently drained and non-functioning, according to a city schedule for maintenance. And that has caused a problem. On Tuesday, the Seward City News reported litter being washed up on a local beach at high tide. The trash consists of small bits of cardboard packaging, some plastic individual condiment containters and cigarette butts.  The debris is thought to be coming from Spring Creek prison. Sewage headed for the unused lagoon is supposed to be collected and trucked away, but some of it is escaping a primary screening process, according to Seward city executive laisson Jackie Wilde.

“We assume the debris  came from Spring Creek [prison] but it’s condiment packages that haven’t been used at the facility for some time, they are not biodegradable.  During the sludge removal rocess, they got stirred up and made it through the screens  that were on the pump and made it out on a fallout line.”

The city organized a cleanup plan Tuesday and is currently taking measures to mitigate the problem.  There is no raw sewage involved in the cleanup.  Wilde said on Wednesday:

“The city public works has four people on the beach cleaning.. along with six people that are at the lagoon itself cleaning, and Spring Creek has been actually very cooperative and has people on their site cleaning also. “

Cleaning efforts can only take place at low tide, which is slowing the process.

The trash washed up on Fourth of July beach and some is caught on a fence around the sewage lagoon. The Spring Creek Prison has a sewage outlet pipe near the beach. Sherrie Daigle, spokesperson for the state Department of Corrections, says minimum security inmates are helping with the cleanup.

Russ Maddox is a Seward resident who is active in environmental matters. Maddox says he was alerted to the mess on Tuesday.

“Somehow, some sewage or wastewater passed through without being filtered out and unfortunately it covered the beach right there. And so we went back out this [Wednesday] morning hoping the city would be cleaning it up and sure enough they were there starting a cleanup and we checked it out.  It was low tide, so we could see it was all spread out through the intertidal zone, and there is a tidal pool right at the mouth of Spring Creek and the bottom of it is littered with this debris under waters.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has been notified and is sending a site inspection team.