Pa. investigating Camp Hill for sewage violations

The state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed Friday that it is investigating the borough of Camp Hill for illegally pumping raw sewage into the Conodoguinet Creek.

A DEP spokeswoman told abc27 News the department received a tip that the illegal pumping has been happening since 2011. She said one of the sources is a pumping station at Seibert Memorial Park off Route 15.

“Camp Hill Borough's pump stations can not handle the amount of sewage with the influx of ground water during a wet season. That is the main problem they are experiencing,” DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said. “This problem led them to purposely bypass into a local creek in Camp Hill Borough without informing DEP.”

Kasianowitz said DEP is conducting a thorough investigation and has requested documents from the borough, which could face a fine.

“We have to see how many times they did it, how much went into the creek, and how long it's been happening for, ” Kasianowitz said. “After we conduct our investigation, it will give us a better idea of what the borough may be looking at as far as fines. Either way, this cannot continue to happen.”

Camp Hill Borough Manager Gary Kline said in a statement that the borough has spent nearly $22 million for sewer upgrades, inspections and improvements since 2005, but that despite the improvements and expenditures, discharges from the sewage pumping stations can occur during extraordinary rain events.

Kline said the borough works diligently to avoid accidental discharges and when the new Spangler Road pumping station is complete, Camp Hill's capacity to move wastewater will increase by more than 50 percent.

Kline added that there have been incidents during torrential rain when Camp Hill has been faced with the choice of allowing raw sewage to back up into homes or bypass the sewage pumping stations. 

He said Camp Hill recognizes that an environmental and health hazard can occur when a pumping station is bypassed, but did so to prevent creating a health hazard in people's homes.

Kline said the upgrades, once fully implemented, should prevent future backups and bypasses.

“There were several occasions during the storms of 2011 when DEP was not immediately notified of bypasses,” he said in the statement. “That has been rectified and we now have a procedure in place to notify DEP as soon as possible should it be necessary to bypass any pump station.”

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