Nantucket Sewer Break Discharges More Than a Million Gallons into Harbor

Jan 5, 2018

Nantucket Harbor in winter
Credit Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism Follow

A catastrophic sewer break on Nantucket has released more than one million gallons of sewage and stormwater into Nantucket Harbor. Roberto Santamaria, the island’s Health Director, said the winter weather is likely to blame for the rupture.

“So far we are working on the assumption that it was storm related, caused by the frosting and defrosting cycle this past week," Santamaria said. "The temperature was too low, everything froze, the temperature spiked again, up to 40 degrees, it all thawed, and then the snap freeze may have cracked the pipe.”

Santamaria said that no major environmental impacts from the discharge are expected. 

The rupture in the 20-inch main occurred Thursday night in the area of South Beach Street and Broad Street.  The main services 80% of the island’s population, about 4 thousand homes.

The break is near the location of all the island’s primary utilities, including the primary electric transmission line.

“When we turned off the pumps the sewerage was overflowing out of the manhole," Santamaria said. "If we were to stop the flow, we would back up all the sewerage into people’s homes. Creating and even larger public health crisis than we have."

Special repair crews were flown to the island this afternoon to address the rupture. Contractors are working now to create a bypass, to stop the discharge. 

Listen to Steve Junker's complete interview with Roberto Santamaria, posted above.