By Ben Lawson
City officials are still awaiting the outcome of an independent investigation into the plant collapse that killed two workers last Tuesday.
The damaged equalization tank spewed more than two million gallons of untreated wastewater into the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The plant was operational again by Wednesday, but officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation cautioned against recreation in the area while tests were underway to ascertain the level of contamination.
Two workers, John Eslinger, 53, and Don Storey, 44, were killed when the water basin failed. Both were employees of Veolia Water North America.
The city has been attempting to restore full wastewater treatment, and has been adding chlorine to the exposed water. David Perella, Gatlinburg’s director of tourism, indicated that water samples taken on Friday showed a decrease in the level of contamination.
“What is now coming out of the plant is reading closer to the levels on the other side of Gatlinburg,” he said.
An independent contractor, Knoxville-based Construction Engineering Consultants, has been hired to investigate the cause of the basin’s failure.
Perella said it could take a further 30 to 60 days before the firm delivers its findings. He said more information might be available in as few as 10 days, but stressed that it would be only a preliminary report.
He couldn’t confirm if the plant had met safety standards before the incident.
City Still Seeks Cause of Deadly Spill
By Ben Lawson