Sewage spill forces Back Street closure

POSTED: 05/16/12 1:39 PM

St. Maarten – “I don’t believe that someone did something like this and did not come back or report it.” That was the initial reaction of Officer Marvin Dollison of the fire department as he supervised a team tasked with cleaning up a section of Back Street yesterday. Just before sunrise a septic truck that was contracted to empty the overflowing cesspool at the nearby Mambo Chinese restaurant ‘accidently’ spilled its content on to Back Street. The owner of the septic company promised to return and clean the spill but never did. It took the fire department approximately 3 hours to remedy the situation after being summoned by the police.
“Every heavy equipment operator should know exactly what to do and not to do. They have done things in the past and gotten away with it. If they had called the fire department to assist or return to the scene to cleanup, it would have been better. But what they have done is to neglect their responsibility to create a healthy environment and ensure that the public road remains clean,” an obviously peeved Dollison said.
The stench that emanated from Back Street was unbearable for many. At one point during the day, a section of the main thoroughfare from the Court House to the Beach Islander Alley had to be barred from pedestrian and vehicular traffic access. Businesses also opted to suspend operations until the situation could be remedied.
“It shows that for some reason or the other, respect for the laws is not there. They are not being adhered to and it is a shame that the person responsible did not even consider that this mess was created in the heart of Philipsburg. It poses a health hazard to people in this area and we also have food outlets; so this is unhygienic.”
When Today visited the restaurant that had contracted the septic truck, the owner was reluctant to speak to us. She feigned ignorance about the entire incident but finally blurted, “Wherever the septic truck throw his stuff, it is not my business.”
Officer Dollison explained that the owner of the restaurant only provided the fire department with a telephone number to contact the septic pumping service. “They said they do not know the name of the septic people; when they call they just come.”
Another food vendor, Dougee the hotdog man said that his business was severely affected by the sewage situation. “This is the second time that Mambo is doing this in the area. I have complained to the police before and nobody has even asked them to close down until they get their septic situation under control.”
The vendor claims that on Monday he braved the foul smelling odor to pour pinesol and clorox bleach on raw sewerage that was snaking its way towards Back Street from the restaurant. It was this situation that resulted in the septic truck being called in on Tuesday morning.
“It was affecting everyone, tourist were complaining saying that their nose started to burn and their eyes were running. They were just sweeping the sewage) with a broom onto Back Street. People had to run with their soup into the Coliseum Casino on Front Street because of how bad the smell was,” the affected businessman said.
It is unclear whether any action will be taken against those responsible for the situation.

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