Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The cause of the barn fire in Jefferson Twp., Ohio was most likely lightning


JEFFERSON TWP., Ohio - Authorities say all of the livestock inside a Jefferson Township barn accounted for after the barn went up in flames Wednesday morning.

However, Fox 45 is told there was large farm equipment inside the barn and it is a total loss. While the cause of the fire is under investigation, firefighters say it was most likely caused by lightning. Firefighters say a neighbor heard thunder and saw a flash of lightning before the barn caught fire. 

JEFFERSON TWP., Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - A barn in the 8000 block of Hemple Road in Jefferson Township has been fully engulfed with fire.

Crews were called out shortly before 10:00 a.m. to the scene.

It's not clear what caused the fire at this point or if any animals were inside, but the smoke can be seen from quite a way off of the scene.

RODENTS EAT THE SOY-WIRES OF VEHICLES: car companies going green, turned to soy as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic for wrapping wires and car parts.

A furry little culprit is causing big problems for car manufactures and, possibly more importantly, for drivers whose vehicles are being destroyed.

Now lawsuits are popping up across the country claiming rodents are responsible, eating cars from the inside out. And it's likely not covered under your warranty.

Critics say soy-wire coverings now used in many new cars are also a tasty food source attracting rodents. They're chewing through wires, and costing car owners thousands of dollars.

Alice Clark, a rat enthusiast, says her cuddly little "pets" wouldn't hurt anyone, but what they could do to the insides of your car is a different tail.

"It's edible, rats will eat pretty much anything that's edible," Clark said.

Clark feeds her rats soy. And critics say as car companies are going green, they've also turned to soy as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic for wrapping wires and car parts.

Driver Sandy Medina doesn't know how long she had furry friends living under her hood.

"Driving around there could have been something underneath while I was driving it and who knows, maybe something would have popped out!" Medina said.

After owning her Toyota Forerunner for just three months, Medina says the first sign of trouble was when her engine light went on and she took it to her dealer.

"They told me, 'There's a nest in the car. Could be anything, could be rodents, could be squirrels, could be anything,'" Medina said.

She says mechanics told her these pests weren't just making her car their home, they were making it their meal.

"I don't even think that there was anything left. Everything was eaten," Medina said.

She fears it wasn't only bad for her car, it was a potential fire and safety hazard, too.

"I felt that my life was in danger," Medina said.

Attorney Brian Kabateck says, "It is a design defect which has effected a lot of people and has cost a lot of people a lot of money."

Kabateck has filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota, which is one of the manufacturers allegedly using a soy based compound for wire insulation.

"Rats think this is delicious," Kabateck said.

The lawsuit says the soy is "baiting rodents" and "enticing these pests to chew through... the wiring" which could "leave the vehicle partially or completely inoperable."

"It can be a life safety hazard, it can cause the car to stop in the middle of the highway, it can cause it to shut down, and it can cause serious problems," Kabateck said.

Kabatech says it's unknown how many manufacturers are using soy in their cars, but Toyota and Honda are two of the most prevalent.

He believes Toyota is using soy to cut costs, not necessarily to go green, and they are leaving car owners to pay for it.

"They ate $6,000 out of my pocket," Medina said.

While some insurance companies, like Medina's, will pay for repairs, the class action cases says Toyota won't cover it under their warranty. Medina says the wires in her truck were replaced with the exact same soy wire covers.

"They can't guarantee that it's not going to happen again," Medina said.

Mark Zickler of Terminex says, "Soy is a little bit sweeter than chewing on a petroleum product, obviously."

Zickler says there are things car owners can do. Honda has said that rodents chewing wiring has been a longstanding problem and they have seen no evidence that anything in their wiring is increasing rodents gnawing tendencies. Nonetheless, they have come out with a fix - spicy tape - that costs about $45.

"You wrap the wiring throughout your vehicle and it has a really super spicy flavoring in it that deters them from wanting to chew on it," Zickler said.

He also recommends owners move their cars, instead of leaving them in one place for long periods which makes them a more likely home, parking inside, and using traps and moth balls to deter rodents.

"They can come from anywhere and surprise you," Zickler said.

Medina, who is part of the class action lawsuit, just wants to warn other drivers and she wants manufactures to fix the problem, without passing the buck to consumers.

"Why wait until something catastrophic to occur, why can't you do something now?" Medina said.

In a statement to Action News Toyota said "rodent damage... occurs across the industry and is not brand or model specific. And they are "not aware of any scientific evidence that shows rodents are attracted to automotive wiring because of alleged soy bases content."

Honda tells us they believe the class action lawsuits have no merit.


Rodent damage to vehicle wiring occurs across the industry, and the issue is not brand- or model-specific. We are currently not aware of any scientific evidence that shows rodents are attracted to automotive wiring because of alleged soy-based content. Because these claims are the subject of current litigation, we cannot comment further.


It is a long established fact that rodents are drawn to chew on electrical wiring in homes, cars, or anywhere else where they may choose to nest.
Honda introduced a rodent-deterrent tape a few years ago to help combat this age-old issue for customers who live in areas where rodents have caused prior damage. Our attempt to provide some protection for our customers against this natural behavior should not lead to the assumption that Honda created the issue in the first place.

Further, Honda sources parts, including electrical wiring and wire harnesses, from several different suppliers who each have their own proprietary formula for wire insulation and wire harnesses. Honda has not received any confirmation from its various suppliers that the wiring insulation and harnesses used in Honda vehicles are soy-based, as the plaintiffs allege. Honda is not aware of studies or information indicating that any of the wiring insulation or other components used for Honda vehicles are derived from substances that attract rodents or increase their propensity to chew on wiring or other components in engine compartments. It is Honda's understanding that rodents may seek shelter in engine components and once inside, can cause damage as a natural result of their need to chew and use material that has been chewed for nesting. Honda is not aware of any information suggesting rodents use wire insulation as a food source.

Class action lawsuits have been filed against a number of auto manufacturers alleging that vehicles contain soy-based wiring insulation and that such insulations attracts rodents to chew on the insulation. Honda believes that the class actions filed against it have no merit.


Rats! New Cars' Soy-Coated Wires Give Rodents Plenty To Chew On

San Diego resident JoAnn Kozakowski-Koch uses coyote urine purchased from Home Depot to stop rats from chewing on wires the  engine compartment of her 2016 Volvo XC60.Photo Credit: T. Koch.
JoAnn Kozakowski-Koch loves her 2016 Volvo XC60.

Trouble is, so do the rats in her neighborhood.  They're chewing through wires in her engine compartment, causing hundreds of dollars in damages.
JoAnn and her husband Tracy live in Santee, Calif., just east of San Diego. Recently retired, they enjoy the open road, exploring new places.  The first clue that something was wrong came last October. "I had just taken the car in for the 10,000-mile check at the Escondido dealership," JoAnn said, "when I got an alert about the tires." 

At first, they thought the tire pressure alert might have something to do with their recent road trip to the Grand Canyon. The tires were just fine, it turns out. "The guys at the dealership had a look and told me that rodents had done some wire damage." JoAnn paid $400 for repairs and figured she'd left her Volvo in an unlucky place at the Grand Canyon National Park.

But JoAnn's duel with rats was just starting. Several days later she got an alert that her water coolant was low. Hmmm, strange. She checked under the hood and, to her dismay,  she saw freshly chewed wires. JoAnn read on the internet that peppermint worked as a rodent repellent so she spread some on the driveway.

One afternoon, she decided to check on the wiring. Any fresh damage?  Easing the hood up, she laid eyes on a portly rat crouched on top of the engine block. She slammed the hood and ran back into the house yelling for her husband.
Tracy came out, looked inside and assured JoAnn that the rat was gone. But he also saw that the wires looked more chewed up.  This time, they took the XC 60 to a different Volvo dealership in San Diego. The service guys confirmed what JoAnn already knew: Rodents had chewed through wiring. That set her back another $200.

Since the second visit, JoAnn and Tracy have upped their game. Tracy set out some traps and has caught one rat.

Meantime, JoAnn conducted an exhaustive Google search and discovered a new rat repellent: Coyote urine.  She bought a supply of the Coyote formula from Home Depot for $24 -- plus shipping.

Every evening, Ms. Kozakowski-Koch places a sponge soaked in coyote urine on a tin vessel near her front tires. Photo Credit: T. Koch.

Every night, Joann's pours a little coyote piss around her tires. "I dot my driveway with some too," she says. She also places a  Coyote urine-soaked sponge inside a tin pan near the car. She's not sure it's working yet and does not want to take her car in for any more repairs until she's rid of the rats once and for all.

Meantime,  the couple noticed something else strange: Their other car in the driveway, an older Toyota MR2, seemed to be immune from the rat attacks. Why was her Volvo getting all the attention?
She called the Volvo service hot line. After some back and forth with the customer service representative, JoAnn unearthed a missing piece of the puzzle:  Some Volvo components are apparently coated with materials derived from soy.  Aha!
Some newer model cars use materials like soy that are more biodegradable than plastics. It's all part of an effort to make car parts more environmentally-friendly. A Volvo service representative at a Volvo dealer in Michigan confirmed some instances of chewed wires, though they "mostly occurred in rural areas -- not cities." A Volvo spokesperson said that an "initial investigation [into the subject] did not return any substantive info."  
But JoAnn's experience with her Volvo does not appear to be an isolated case. Honda, Toyota and other automakers seem to be experiencing chewed up wires, too.
Friends of mine experienced a setback with their recently purchased 2014 Mazda 5. One weekend, they parked at a campground in San Diego a few miles from the ocean. During the Sunday return drive, the car got stuck in second gear and would run no faster than 30 miles per hour. They had to get off the highway and take side streets home.
Service advisors at their dealership confirmed that chewed wires had caused the automatic transmission to lock into second gear. The entire wiring harness had to be replaced. Their newly-obtained Mazda had a 30-day warranty so the dealership agreed, "with great reluctance", to cover the $1,200 in repairs.
Some Toyota and Honda owners say they have shelled out thousands of dollars to replace wiring. In September, 2016, a class-action suit was filed against Toyota for vehicles produced between 2012 and 2016 that used soy-coated wiring. Honda was also slapped with a class-action suit earlier in 2016 for vehicles produced between 2012 and 2015. The common denominator appears to be soy.

Alas, no green deed goes unpunished.

Are the rat turf wars enough to spoil JoAnn's feeling for her Volvo? No -- at least not yet. "My husband and I do lots of road trips. I love the way the 4 wheel-drive works. It feels like the tires are bolted right to the road."
Now if only Volvo could find a way to bolt the rats at a safe distance from the soy, JoAnn's life would be perfect.

Former Linden, New Jersey police officer Pedro Abad received a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison Wednesday for driving drunk and speeding in a wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another man.

A former New Jersey police officer received a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison Wednesday for driving drunk in a wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another man.

Pedro Abad worked for the Linden Police Department in 2015 when he crashed into a tractor-trailer after a night at a Staten Island strip club with friends.

"This sentence ensures Mr. Abad is held accountable for the lives he destroyed when he decided to get behind the wheel and drive drunk," District Attorney Michael McMahon said. "My thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of all the victims affected by this tragedy."

Abad veered onto the other side of the West Shore Expressway and hit an oncoming truck just after 4:30 a.m., killing fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and Linden resident Joseph Rodriguez. Another officer in the car, Patrick Kudlac, was seriously injured.

Abad was convicted in May of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, manslaughter and other charges.

He spoke before the court, apologizing and admitting he should not have gotten in the vehicle. He requested a minimum sentence of a year behind bars, but the judge showed no mercy, sentencing him to the maximum.

"You have no idea of the magnitude of what you did," Judge Mario Mattei told Abad. "You weren't an accident waiting to happen. You were a time bomb waiting to explode."

Prosecutors said Abad was intoxicated and driving 73 miles per hour when he plowed head-on into the truck.

Rodriguez's father would not refer to Abad by name during the trial, but did so after sentencing.

"To Pedro: You took the most precious thing from a parent - you took my precious little boy from me," he said.

Kudlac testified against Abad during the trial, describing the rounds of drinks, the whiskey shots and the strip club. He was asleep in the back seat seconds before the crash.

Earlier that evening, Abad and Kudlac had gone to Central Park, a bar and restaurant in New Jersey, and drank whiskey before joining up with Rodriguez and Viggiano. From there, the group drove to Curves gentleman's club on Staten Island, arriving at 2:21 a.m.

Credit card receipts from that evening showed Abad had purchased numerous alcoholic beverages for himself and others throughout the night. A blood sample revealed Abad had a blood-alcohol content of .24 -- three times the legal limit -- following the crash. A paramedic who treated Abad on scene also testified that he had a very strong odor of alcohol.

Abad had two drunken-driving arrests before the fatal crash: one from a 2011 accident in Roselle, New Jersey, after he allegedly drove through the wall of a convenience store; the other in 2013 after he struck a parked car in Rahway, New Jersey. The 2011 charge was later dismissed.  Corrupt judges and prosecutors are to blame for that.

GOING POSTAL IN SAN FRANCISCO: Mentally-ill United Parcel Service (UPS) worker Jimmy Lam shoots and kills 3, self at the UPS facility in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood

SAN FRANCISCO — The day after UPS driver Michael Lefiti was gunned down in a deadly workplace shooting, a makeshift memorial of flowers, plants, teddy bears and balloons had cropped up along his daily delivery route in San Francisco’s Diamond

Heights neighborhood.

Lefiti, 46, of Hercules, known as “Big Mike,” was among three UPS staffers killed Wednesday morning after police said suspect Jimmy Lam, 38, opened fire and then shot and killed himself. San Francisco residents Wayne Chan, 56, and Benson Louie, 50, also died. Two others were also injured from the gun shots, and five others suffered minor injuries trying to get out of the building during the panic.

Lefiti worked at the UPS warehouse and customer service center in San Francisco, near 17th Street and San Bruno Avenue in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.

He was a father of five who worked for UPS for 17 years, as did Louie, while Chan had 28 years of service, according to UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg.

“None of us has words to explain why a person of such kindness and warmth could have been targeted in this way,” read a message at the Diamond Heights shopping center memorial, with photos of Lefiti. “Big Mike was large in size. But his laughter, concern for others and dedication to those he loved were all much, much larger. Larger than life. And unforgettable.” People gather at the Diamond Heights shopping center in San Francisco to mourn their UPS man, “Big” Mike Lefiti, who was one of the victims in the gun rampage at the United Parcel Service building in San Francisco, California, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Nelson Barry, who owns a law office on Lefiti’s delivery route in the Diamond Heights neighborhood, said the memorial for the beloved UPS driver started because Lefiti was such a beloved figure among his customers.

“He was always upbeat and never, ever complained about anything,” Barry said of Lefiti.

Lefiti’s family could not be reached for comment.

“Mikey” was well-known around Diamond Heights because he’d had his delivery route for many years, Barry said. Hard-working, warm, personable and kind, Lefiti would always greet people by name, with a big, deep voice in a friendly, caring way, and ask about them and their families.

He would talk about his family and how they were growing, and what they were doing or going to do, Barry recalled.

He would joke about his kids and “how they were eating him out of house and home,” and about how he had to lose weight, “and I would say, yeah, me too,” Barry said.

“He was a gentle giant,” Barry said. “He was really compassionate and cared about injustice whenever he saw it. … No one will ever fill the hole that he filled.”

Rebecca Kim, who owns Diamond Cleaners in the area, said “Mikey” had been delivering packages for all of the 15 to 16 years she’d had her business in the area.

“He knew every person’s name, he knew their children’s name and their pets’ name, and he was always joking and smiling…,” she said. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

He also was the type of person who would always go above and beyond in his job, offering to help out and cheering up others, she said.

“He would be having lunch and he’d say, ‘Are you hungry? Can I get you lunch?'” she recalled.

“All these people are just grieving because they loved the guy. He was really sweet.”

San Francisco police have not released any information about the suspect, San Francisco resident Jimmy Lam. A union official said Wednesday that Lam had filed a grievance complaining that he was working excessive overtime.

Joseph Cilia, with a local Teamsters Union, said Lam’s grievance filed in March requested that UPS relieve him from working overtime going forward.

Still, Cilia said, Lam wasn’t angry, and he could not understand why he would open fire on his colleagues at a morning meeting Wednesday.

Cilia said the two other drivers who were wounded have been released from the hospital and will be OK.

Reached late Thursday evening, Rosenberg said the company wanted to offer its thanks to community members in the tragedy’s wake.

“From the neighbors in the area to the church across the street, they were incredible to provide support services,” Rosenberg said. “Even the pastor of the church making it a safe haven for employees during the police investigation yesterday, it’s just been a tremendous outpouring of support.”

Rosenberg said worker resilience and shifts from workers at other nearby facilities would allow the company to catch up quickly. “One amazing thing is how they’ve pulled together. Today they were back providing service, consoling each another.”


SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Four people including the gunman were dead and two others wounded in a shooting involving UPS employees at the company’s facility in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Wednesday morning, police said.

San Francisco Assistant Police Chief Toney Chaplin said that the shooter, a UPS employee in uniform, was among the dead. When police found him, he was still armed with an “assault pistol” which he then put to his head and killed himself, Chaplin said.

Police sources told KPIX 5 the employee was identified as Jimmy Lam.
The shooting was reported around 9 a.m. at the packaging and sorting facility at 320 San Bruno Ave.

Chaplin said investigators haven’t determined a motive for the shooting and that there was no evidence that terrorism played a role.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said the unidentified employee opened fire inside the facility before the drivers were sent out to do their normal daily deliveries.
The wife of one of the survivors told KPIX 5 that her husband said the gunman broke into the workers safety meeting and shot three employees “execution-style.”

“My husband called and was in distress,” she told KPIX 5. “So I only got pieces. He just wanted to let me he was okay. He said someone started shooting execution style and he just started running.”

Chopper 5 over a shooting at the UPS facility in San Francisco on June 14, 2017. (CBS)
Chopper 5 over a shooting at the UPS facility in San Francisco on June 14, 2017. (CBS)

San Francisco police tweeted at 10:33 a.m. that the building had been secured. Special operations officers were continuing to search the building for more possible victims.

Nearby, auto shop owner Robert Kim said he heard about five to eight rapid gunshots. The next thing he knew, he said, “there’s a mob of UPS drivers” running down the street screaming “shooter, shooter.”

The San Francisco Office of Emergency Services said 911 calls began coming in around 9 a.m. of an active shooter at the massive facility.

Gaut said that the employee opened fire inside the facility before the drivers were sent out to do their normal daily deliveries.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee issued a statement thanking “our brave officers of the San Francisco Police Department, and our dedicated employees at 911 and San Francisco General Hospital.” He added:
I also want to offer my condolences and thoughts for the individuals and families affected by the senseless act of violence at the UPS facility. We all know the familiar faces of our local UPS drivers and delivery persons. Today’s tragedy will be felt in every community served by these committed employees.

U.S. Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein issued a statement recalling another mass shooting in San Francisco years ago:
I was heartbroken to learn that yet another senseless act of gun violence has marred our wonderful City. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to everyone affected by this despicable act.
I can’t help but recall the 101 California Street shooting in 1993, when eight people lost their lives. Violence is never the answer, but the continuing scourge of gun violence is particularly disheartening.
As we learn more details of this shooting, I’m hopeful that we can take away lessons to help prevent these acts from occurring in the future. We must do more to address the underlying roots of these tragic events.
California Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted: “Our thoughts & prayers with everyone impacted by senseless violence today in SF & Alexandria.”
The shooting came the same day a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia wounding U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others


San Francisco UPS facility shooting: 4 dead including gunman, police say

By Katherine Lam Published June 14, 2017
Fox News

Multiple injuries in workplace shooting in San Francisco

A UPS employee opened fire in a San Francisco package delivery facility in a shooting spree that left four dead, including the gunman, on Wednesday, police and the company said.

The gunman barged into the facility near 17th and Vermont streets around 9 a.m. local time and began shooting, San Francisco police confirmed to Fox News. The building is located in the Potrero Hill, which is about 2 1/2 miles from downtown San Francisco.

Two other people remain hospitalized. The gunman died of a self-inflicted wound, police said.

Police identified San Francisco resident Jimmy Lam as the shooter, according to NBC Bay Area. Lam has a history of mental illness, sources said. He was dressed in a UPS uniform at the time of the shooting, police said. UPS spokesman Steve Gaut confirmed the gunman was an employee at the facility.

The motive of the shooting is still unclear, police said, adding that they believe the incident was not terror-related. The FBI was aware of the shooting but did not intervene, the bureau told Fox News.

The shooting led to a massive police response, initiating a shelter-in-place for the surrounding area. The warning was lifted nearly three hours later after the incident was "contained" and the building was "secured," police said.

A woman who said she was an employee at the facility told KTVU that the gunman opened fire on the main sorting floor.

Auto shop owner Robert Kim said he heard about five to eight rapid gunshots. Just moments later, "there's a mob of UPS drivers" running down the street screaming "shooter, shooter," Kim said. Another witness said a group of about 10 workers assembled on the roof and held their hands up as police began to arrive.

A UPS spokesman said in an earlier statement to Fox News that there was an "incident involving employees" at the facility.

"Local law enforcement have control of the facility and are conducting an investigation. The company is cooperating with law enforcement. We cannot provide information as to the identity of persons involved at this time, pending the police investigation," the statement read.

"The company is saddened and deeply concerned about affected employees, family members and the community we share."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee offered his condolences and said he was "always saddened by the loss of life to gun violence."

SEWER GAS (METHANE AND HYDROGEN SULFIDE) KILLS TWO LIFT STATION MAINTENANCE WORKERS IN PETAL, MS: the victims were Terry West, 45, and his son, Gage West, 20, both of Brandon

PETAL, MS - Two men killed Tuesday afternoon at a lift station in Petal have been identified.

Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem said the victims were Terry West, 45, and his son, Gage West, 20, both of Brandon.

The two men are believed to have been overcome by methane gas while working at the lift station. Their actual cause of death is pending autopsy results, Klem said.

Mayor Hal Marx said the men were working for a company that had contracted with the city to do some work at the lift station on Short South Street.

"Our crew was on the scene with them most of the day," he said. "They told our crew they could leave and they were finishing up."

Marx said two of the three men working for the contractor were found unconscious in the lift station.

Emergency personnel were called. First responders were able to reach the men, who were about 15 feet down, and pulled them out.

Efforts to revive the men were unsuccessful.

Marx declined to give the name of the company the men worked for.

Carolyn McAfee, who lives next to the lift station, said she could not get to her home for about an hour while emergency personnel worked to get the men above ground.

"It was sad, just sad," she said. "My heart goes out to their families.

"Their husband, their son, their father left home this morning, and they aren't coming back."

She said once she learned it was gas that killed the men she became concerned about her health and safety.

"I was told it was odorless gas," she said. "I am concerned about my health and my neighbors' health.

"And is it safe for me to stay in my house tonight?"

Marx said he wanted to reassure residents they are in no danger.

"The problem was with the workers being in a confined space with the sewer water," he said. "It was not a gas leak."



Two people are dead in Petal after an incident on West 7th Avenue.

Two contractors working for the city were working on a lift station when officials believe they were overcome by methane gas, according to Petal Mayor Hal Marx.

Marx said the workers were 15 feet deep in the lift station at the time of the incident.

The fire department tried to save the men, but did all that they could do, according to Marx.

Marx said officials believe because the gas was odorless the workers were unable to react quickly enough.


PETAL, Miss. (WHLT) — A Brandon father and son were killed by methane gas while working at a lift station in Petal, according to officials.

Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem said 45-year-old Terry West and 20-year-old Gage West were the two men who died.

We’re told the two men were working at a wastewater pump on Tuesday when the incident happened.

Petal Mayor Hal Marx said the men were working for a company that contracted with the city.

Marx said the two of the three men working for the contractor were found unconscious in the lift station. Attempts by emergency first responders to revive Terry and Gage West were unsuccessful. They were pulled out from about 15 feet down, according to authorities.

Marx said the problem wasn’t a gas leak but that the workers had been in a confined space with the sewer water.


What is a Lift Station?

DPW, Water, Sewerage

Pumping stations in sewage collection systems, also called lift stations, are normally designed to handle raw sewage that is fed from underground gravity pipelines (pipes that are sloped so that a liquid can flow in one direction under gravity).  Sewage is fed into and stored in an underground pit, commonly known as a wet well.  The well is equipped with electrical instrumentation to detect the level of sewage present.  When the sewage level rises to a predetermined point, a pump will be started to lift the sewage upward through a pressurized pipe system called a sewer force main or rising main from where the sewage is discharged into a gravity manhole.  From here the cycle starts all over again until the sewage reaches its point of destination—usually a treatment plant.  By this method, pumping stations are used to move waste to higher elevations.  In the case of high sewage flows into the well (for example during peak flow periods and wet weather) additional pumps will be used.  If this is insufficient, or in the case of failure of the pumping station, a backup in the sewer system can occur, leading to a sanitary sewer overflow—the discharge of raw sewage into the environment.

Sewage pumping stations are typically designed so that one pump or one set of pumps will handle normal peak flow conditions.  Redundancy is built into the system so that in the event that any one pump is out of service, the remaining pump or pumps will handle the designed flow.  In these days there are a lot of electronic controllers in the market designed specially for this application.  The storage volume of the wet well between the "pump on" and "pump off" settings is designed to minimize pump starts and stops, but is not so long a retention time as to allow the sewage in the wet well to go septic.

Sewage pumps are almost always end-suction centrifugal pumps with open impellers and are specially designed with a large open passage so as to avoid clogging with debris or winding stringy debris onto the impeller.  A four pole or six pole AC induction motor normally drives the pump.  Rather than provide large open passages, some pumps, typically smaller sewage pumps, also macerate any solids within the sewage breaking them down into smaller parts which can more easily pass through the impeller.

The interior of a sewage pump station is a very dangerous place.  Poisonous gases, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, can accumulate in the wet well; an ill-equipped person entering the well would be overcome by fumes very quickly.  Any entry into the wet well requires the correct confined space entry method for a hazardous environment.  To minimize the need for entry, the facility is normally designed to allow pumps and other equipment to be removed from outside the wet well.

Traditional sewage pumping stations incorporate both a wet well and a "dry well".  Often these are the same structure separated by an internal divide.  In this configuration pumps are installed below ground level on the base of the dry well so that their inlets are below water level on pump start, priming the pump and also maximizing the available NPSH.  Although nominally isolated from the sewage in the wet well, dry wells are underground, confined spaces and require appropriate precautions for entry.  Further, any failure or leakage of the pumps or pipework can discharge sewage directly into the dry well with complete flooding not an uncommon occurrence.  As a result, the electric motors are normally mounted above the overflow, top water level of the wet well, usually above ground level, and drive the sewage pumps through an extended vertical shaft.  To protect the above ground motors from weather, small pump houses are normally built, which also incorporate the electrical switchgear and control electronics.  These are the visible parts of a traditional sewage pumping station although they are typically smaller than the underground wet and dry wells.

More modern sewage pumping stations do not require a dry well or pump house and usually comprise only a wet well.  In this configuration, submersible sewage pumps with closely coupled electric motor are mounted within the wet well itself, submerged within the sewage.  Submersible pumps are mounted on two vertical guide rails and seal onto a permanently fixed "duckfoot", which forms both a mount and also a vertical bend for the discharge pipe.  For maintenance or replacement, submersible pumps are raised by a chain off of the duckfoot and up the two guide rails to the maintenance (normally ground) level.  Reinstalling the pumps simply reverses this process with the pump being remounted on the guide rails and lowered onto the duckfoot where the weight of the pump reseals it.  As the motors are sealed and weather is not a concern, no above ground structures are required, excepting a small kiosk to contain the electrical switchgear and control systems.

Due to the much reduced health and safety concerns, and smaller footprint and visibility, submersible pump sewage pumping stations have almost completely superseded traditional sewage pumping stations.  Further, a refit of a traditional pumping station usually involves converting it into a modern pumping station by installing submersibles in the wet well, demolishing the pump house and retiring the dry well by either stripping it, or knocking down the internal partition and merging it with the wet well.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sewer Gas...But Were Afraid to Ask

Question:    What is sewer gas?
Answer:    Sewer gas, at least that which causes an odor problem to the occupants of a house, is a mixture of inorganic gases created by the action of anaerobic (needing no oxygen) bacteria on sewage and sludge.  This gas can contain hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Question:    What makes it smell so bad?
Answer:    Almost always, hydrogen sulfide is the odor culprit, although ammonia may be formed in rare cases.  The rest of the gases listed above are odorless.  The odor threshold, the lowest concentration that can be detected with the nose, for hydrogen sulfide is somewhere between .001 and .01 parts per million (ppm), an extremely low concentration.  As an illustration, 1 ppm on a linear scale is one inch in 15.8 miles.

Question:    Can these gases harm the people who come into contact with them?
Answer:    Only under extremely unusual circumstances.  Although hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas, it will not harm people at the concentrations that exist in a house with sewer gas odor problems.  Studies have shown that hydrogen sulfide has a depressant effect on the central nervous system in concentrations above 150 ppm.  This is 15,000 to 150,000 times the amount detectable by most people.  Not enough gas is generated in the sewers for concentrations to approach the dangerous level in the dwelling.
However, if a person were to enter a tunnel or deep hole that contained sewage undergoing anaerobic breakdown, there is a chance he could become poisoned.

Question:    How does it get into the house?
Answer:    The only way sewer gas can get into a home is if there is something wrong with your plumbing.  The most common fault in the plumbing system is untrapped drains, especially floor drains in the basement or utility room.  Since 1970, the City of Marion has had a plumbing inspection program and any houses built after that year should have no problem with a lack of traps.  If your house is older than that, your floor drains may or may not be trapped.
Other ways sewer gas can get into your home include:
  1. A dry trap.  If there is a trap in a drain line that is not often used, the water in the trap may evaporate, breaking the trap seal.
  2. A damaged trap.  Obviously, if the trap is cracked and allows the water to run out, the trap seal is again lost.
  3. A damaged drain line.  If the drain line is cracked or broken between the main sewer and the trap, there is nothing to impede the flow of gases through the crack or break in the line.  Also, a damaged drain line may allow sewage to drain into the basement or crawlspace under your house, and you may get a sewer odor from that accumulation of sewer.
  4. A damaged or plugged vent.  The vent system in your plumbing is designed to equalize the atmospheric pressure differences caused by wastewater flowing through the plumbing, and also to allow sewer gases to escape the plumbing system by venting them into the atmosphere above the house.  If this system has an untrapped opening inside your house, gases may escape through that opening.
If the vent is plugged or absent, those unequal pressures it was designed to eliminate may siphon the water out of the trap to such an extent as to ruin the trap seal.

Question:    How is it produced in the sewer?
Answer:    Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is produced when the sulfate radical (SO4) is reduced to H2S and H2O (water).  This reaction can take place only when there is no oxygen or other oxidants in the microbial environment.  Studies have shown that H2S is not produced in fresh wastewater for two or three days, by which time it is normally to or through the wastewater treatment plant.
There are, however, some environments where hydrogen sulfide is produced in the sewers:
  1. The slime layer that coats the sewer pipe below the water line.  Although this layer can be only .040 of an inch thick, the three-quarters of the layer closest to the sewer pipe is so oxygen-poor that H2S is commonly formed.
  2. If any sludge has been deposited at the bottom of the pipe, H2S will also be formed in that sludge.
  3. If there is a problem in the sewer with flow (if it is plugged or partially plugged) so that the sewage cannot keep moving, the oxygen content gets to low that H2S can be produced in the sewage itself.
An important point to remember is hat all sewage systems, at one time or another, produce sewer gas.

Question:    What can be done to keep it from being formed in the sewers?
Answer:    If the hydrogen sulfide is becoming a problem in a very localized area (for example at the treatment plant or at a lift station), oxidizers can be added to the sewage to increase the oxidation-reduction potential.  These oxidizers can be oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, permanganates, and others.
If the problem is in part of the sewage collection system, about all that can be practically done is to flush the sewers in order to increase the flow rate and remove any sediments or obstructions.  However, this can only be done to alleviate acute problems, and is not practical on a continuous basis.

Question:    What can I do to keep odors out of the house?
Answers:    The best answer is to find the problem with the plumbing system and have it repaired.  If the floor drains are untrapped, have traps installed.  It is probably not wise to simply plug the drain, because any water that enters the basement or utility room will have no place to go and possibly flood the room.  In any case, an experienced plumber will be able to find the shortcomings of the system and offer suggestions on how to correct them on an individual basis.

Question:    What, exactly, is a trap?
Answer:    A trap is a device made from a U-shaped section of pipe, tubing or tile which traps wastewater.  This wastewater then acts as a seal to prevent sewer gases from coming out through the drain opening.

Question:    How can I tell if my floor drains are trapped?
Answer:    Pour water into the opening (at least 2 gallons) and visually inspect by looking down the opening.  If there is considerable water standing (so that it fills the pipe), then the drain is trapped.  Check it again a couple of hours later to be sure the water hasn’t drained out.

If there is no standing water, then either there is no trap or it is located somewhere else in the line.  If there are odors present, pour some water into the opening and check for odors about an hour later.  If the odors are still present, there is probably no trap.