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Expect A Stench In Manchester

MANCHESTER — A public warning issued last month about the potential for a big stink in town was premature.

The contractor that was to begin pumping waste from two, 500,000-gallon tanks at the sewage treatment plant in mid-July is not expected to start work until later this week, General Manager Scott Shanley said Tuesday.

Possibly delayed by other jobs, the contractor now has 60 days to complete the removal, "and they're quite confident that won't be a problem," Shanley said.

The waste removal, however, which is part of a $43 million plant upgrade, could prove to be a malodorous trial for residents and anyone visiting or working in town for the next several weeks. So once again, brace yourselves, citizens of Manchester.

"The cleaning of this old system is going to result in very unpleasant odors, depending upon proximity and wind direction," Shanley said last month. "We expect the first few weeks of work, when the largest amounts of highly concentrated organic material are being removed, will be the most hostile to the human senses."

The tanks, which will be demolished after they're emptied, employ microorganisms that break down and reduce waste. Since they were installed in 1954, the containers have become like huge grease traps, with an accumulation of inorganic matter such as flushed toys and other plastic material, mixed with the slurry and sludge.

Starting Thursday or Friday, crews will begin pumping the material into a portable centrifuge to remove water. The waste then will be deposited in the nearby local landfill. The tanks have been venting for several weeks, but the extent of the stench won't be known until the emptying begins.

"The active removal, when it begins later this week, will likely generate odor," Shanley said.

Plant improvements include a new facility to handle solid waste, an odor control system, a new final settling tank, a treatment system to remove phosphorus and other upgrades.

The project is driven by government clean water regulations that mandate reductions of nitrogen and phosphorus in treated water. Treated effluent from the Manchester plant flows into the Hockanum River, and eventually, into Long Island Sound.

The project is scheduled to be completed in May 2015. The main contractor is Carlin Contracting Co. of Waterford. The project is being financed through the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Clean Water Fund, which is providing a grant covering about 22 percent of the total cost and the remainder through a low-interest loan.

The new plant will return clean water to the environment for the next 20 years, Shanley said.

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