SPRING HILL — Patricia Clark was enjoying an open windows kind of afternoon Tuesday when the air in her apartment on Landover Boulevard suddenly grew malodorous.
Clark confirmed the smell wasn't coming from inside the apartment. Her 15-year-old granddaughter started complaining.
"She said, 'It's getting stinkier and stinkier in here, Grandma,' " Clark recalled on Wednesday morning.
The source of the stench bubbled up from the ground across the street, at the northwest corner of Landover and Walton Street. A 6-inch sewer line ruptured at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, spewing an estimated 8,700 gallons of sewage before crews stopped the flow, said Dan LeCompte, the county's wastewater collections supervisor.
Crews shut down nearby lift stations and had the damaged section of line isolated within 90 minutes, LeCompte said. A tanker truck pumped out and hauled off the remaining sewage. Repairs were complete by about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The spilled sewage pooled in the front yard of a duplex on Walton and streamed into a swale, flowing a block south to Usher Street.
Crews covered the affected area with lime, which kills bacteria, and by Wednesday workers were shoveling up a chalky-colored mix of grass and mud. Crews will put down a fresh layer of topsoil to fill in washed-out areas and suppress lingering odors, said Jesse Goodwin, assistant director of environmental services for the county.
First responders wore hazardous materials suits, but the spill did not pose a health threat to residents in the area, Goodwin said. The county notified the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Division of Emergency Management as required by law.
The PVC pipe that failed was likely installed in the early 1970s, LeCompte said. The walls of the pipe are thinner than those used today and become brittle with age.
"We inherited it," LeCompte said.
Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]