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Wastewater spills into street after major line break in Newport News

While no wastewater has reportedly entered any homes, the VDH issued a temporary emergency shellfish closure for parts of the James River.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) said it had a major line break Monday that caused wastewater to spill into an area of the East End.

HRSD said the primary force main is located on 16th Street. The line, which is 36-inches wide, carries wastewater to the Boat Harbor Treatment Plant. It's part of a 2-mile pipe replacement that is taking place. The cost of the project is $16 million.

HRSD Communications Director Leila Rice said the pipe was originally put in around 1944.

The area in which the water was spilling Monday afternoon was 16th Street between Garden Drive and Walnut Avenue.

Rice said no homes lost water service.

“And no wastewater has entered any homes,” Rice said.

HRSD said people who live there and drive through it should avoid the area and follow detour signs.

Crews planned to work around the clock to divert water away from the neighborhood so they could make repairs to the line and begin cleanup efforts in roads, yards, and other spots affected by this spill. 

HRSD said people who live there should expect extensive construction activity and a long-term lane closure.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health's Division of Shellfish Safety said that as a result of the wastewater spill, it was issuing a temporary emergency shellfish closure for parts of the James River.

The VDH said a portion of the James River and its tributaries -- located in Newport News, Suffolk, and Isle of Wight County -- will be temporarily closed to shellfish harvesting from January 5 until January 26, 2021, due to "a significant sewage release impacting water quality."

A map of the affected area is available on the VDH's website. Shellfish affected are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or finfish.

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