Sewage spill closes NU |

Sewage spill closes NU

Students at Nevada Union High School were sent home early Thursday after workers were forced to shut down a blocked sewer line near the campus’ wrestling gymnasium.

About 2,000 gallons of sewage overflowed before workers shut plumbing to most of the campus shortly after 10 a.m. The sewage flowed into a storm drain and posed no health risks, according to the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health.

The problem was expected to be fixed Thursday night, and school is scheduled to resume today, Superintendent Maggie Deetz said.

Steve Frazier, the district’s director of facilities, maintenance and operations, said the main sewer line problem across from the Ali Gymnasium could have been caused by a break in the 40-year-old clay pipe. He said workers tried unsuccessfully to fix the problem without initially shutting the system off, which caused the spill.

“If we can’t shut down the bathrooms, we can’t stop the flow,” he said. “Without bathrooms, we can’t have school.”

Frazier said crews sent a remote camera down the sewer system to determine the cause of the break.

The blockage and ensuing spill forced administrators to send students home at 11:30 a.m. Administrators with the Nevada Joint Union High School District next to the high school on Ridge Road were also sent home, as the sewer system is shared by both the high school and the district’s administrative office.

The sewer problem also forced Nevada Union administrators to cancel a “Senior Parent Night” Thursday for members of the class of 2005 and their parents.

The day was cut short as well for students at the Park Avenue Alternative Site, which shares the same bus routes as Nevada Union.

Because they were at school for at least four hours, Nevada Union students won’t have to make up the day. Last year, students were forced to make up two days because of bomb threats made to the school.

Students who were in the area of the spill said they noticed a distinct stench as they dressed out for physical education classes.

“It was disgusting,” said freshman Lacey Wilson, 15. “There was discolored water everywhere.”

“I saw toilet paper everywhere. It was so gross,” said her friend, Kimberly Billings, as she waited for a ride home. Two Roto-Rooter vans rolled into the parking lot as she spoke.

“It’s not the coolest thing, but at least we got out of school,” said junior Rickey Mullen, 17, as he walked to the student parking lot.

Parents were left messages by Principal Marty Mathiesen as soon as it was determined students would have to miss the remainder of school.

By noon, the high school was nearly deserted, with the exception of a few students and rubber-gloved plumbers snaking a camera down the old pipes.

Despite the mishap, Mathiesen said he and his staff were well-prepared for such an accident.

“It’s communication, man,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the way people reacted.”

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