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Treatment tank leak started late last week, official says | UPDATE

Officials said late Tuesday the leak at the Fort Ward Treatment Plant that may have sent sludge down Tani Creek and into Blakely Harbor actually happened late last week.

Officials with the Kitsap Public Health District said the leak was discovered Friday morning.

The Kitsap Public Health District reported the leak to the public Tuesday, and warned people to avoid contact with the water at the head of Blakely Harbor and Tani Creek.

Stuart Whitford of the Kitsap Public Health District said the area had been posted with signs, and people should not collect shellfish from Blakely Harbor.

When originally notified of the spill at the treatment plant, officials weren't aware that the sludge had escaped the grounds of the facility.

"The thought at the time was that the spill had been retained on site," Whitford said.

Officials said "digestive sludge" leaked from a 1-inch hole in the side of a tank and then got into nearby ditch, then neighboring wetlands, and then Tani Creek before reaching Blakely Harbor.

Officials were awaiting test results to confirm that pollution found off-site Tuesday had come from the Fort Ward Treatment Plant.

Sarah Lee, a commissioner with the sewer district, said late Tuesday that officials with the district had not yet been contacted by the health department that the spill had made its way to Blakely Harbor.

It was the first leak the site has ever had, Lee said.

The sewer district is currently contacting their customers in the area, Lee added.

The wastewater treatment plant is generally unmanned and monitored electronically. A site manager visits the facility each day to check on operations.

Sewage treated at the facility passes through a process that uses aeration and ultraviolet light. The sludge that leaked had one more treatment to go through.

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