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Smell leads to broken pipe and 400,000-plus gallon sewage spill in Durham

Inside Raleigh’s aging sewer lines

Raleigh is using cameras to search for problems in sections of its aging sewer system, including this video that shows a major break and a significant crack in a line.
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Raleigh is using cameras to search for problems in sections of its aging sewer system, including this video that shows a major break and a significant crack in a line.

A broken pipe spilled raw sewage in Durham for about two weeks before being discovered.

The spill was discovered Wednesday near 105 T.W. Alexander Drive, according to a news release from the Durham County Engineering and Environmental Services Department.

Deputy Director Stephanie Brixey said an inspector on the way to a job site smelled a foul odor and traced it to the broken pipe. The spill happened in an area between Alexander Drive and N.C. 147.

Investigators say approximately 418,880 gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged from the wastewater collection system while the broken pipe went undetected.

The untreated wastewater flowed into an unnamed tributary that discharges to Burdens Creek, according to the release. The pipe broke because of stream bank erosion, the release says.

The spill was reported to N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Water Resources, according to the release.

Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.
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