Bridge collapses when sewage tanker crosses, spills into creek

A bridge in the 7900 block of Westfield Boulevard collapsed when a sewage tanker drove over the crossing on Aug. 3, 2017. (WISH Photo/Alex Hadley)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —Three thousand gallons of human waste spilled into a north side creek near Westfield Boulevard on Thursday, according to the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Now Marion County health workers are trying to clean the water as much as possible.

IFD investigators said a worker for a sewer service company pumped out a homeowner’s septic tank near 79th Street and Westfield on Thursday. The worker drove a truck carrying a septic tank over a wooden bridge at the end of a driveway over Holly Creek but the weight of the tanker broke the bridge. A cap on the tank opened and the waste spilled into the water, investigators said.

The tanker was gone by Thursday night but a warning from the Marion County Public Health Department still stands next to the creek. The sign reads “Sewage pollution, contact is hazardous.”

When 24-Hour News 8 reached out to the Marion County Health Department, a spokesperson said a sign had been posted in the area advising residents to avoid contact with the water, similar to warnings posted following heavy rain. The health department also said the water had been tested for bacteria on Thursday and would continue to be monitored but should return to normal levels within a few days.

IFD said Holly Creek feeds into the White River near 75th Street. Investigators haven’t said if the waste reached the river and they haven’t announced any additional health risks.

Jack Ward, who lives near the river, isn’t taking any chances.

“We have our dog here and she loves to jump and play in the river, so obviously we’re going to avoid that from here on out,” Ward said.

An incident report from IFD said the health department planed water quality measurements upstream and downstream Thursday and again in a few days. The report said health workers are trying to clean the water as much as possible.

“We’ll stay informed and when they say it’s cleaned up, if it ever does get cleaned up, we’ll go out again,” Ward said.

IFD also said health workers view the incident as an accident and they don’t plan to cite anyone involved.

The truck involved is owned by a company called Curt and Jerry Sewer Service Inc. IFD’s report said the company is providing a second tanker to help recover what spilled.

IFD said the damages to the bridge are estimated at more than $70,000. When asked who will pay for the repairs, an IFD spokesperson said it will be hammered out between insurance companies.

A woman living at the home where the incident happened declined our request for an interview.

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