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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot
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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot
Photo Credit: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
After days of heavy rain, a Chattahoochee River overflow area is filled with water along Riverview Road in Mableton on Dec. 30, 2018.  

JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

A pump failure on New Year’s Eve at a Cobb County water treatment plant was still causing the overflow of sewage into one of the Chattahoochee River’s main tributaries Wednesday afternoon.

A mixture of rainwater, creek water and untreated wastewater continues to overflow into Nickajack Creek just south of Discovery Boulevard, said county spokesman Ross Cavitt. But, he said, the county’s drinking water is safe.

Lewis Hays, a compliance manager with the state’s watershed protection group, said pump systems have two areas: a dry side where electrical components are kept and a wet side from where the water is pulled.

He said the dry area of the pump at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility somehow got water inside it and this caused the pump to fail.

Cavitt said authorities don’t know how that happened and won’t know until they remove water from the facility.


READPlant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee


Cavitt said the land affected by the overflow is owned by the county and fairly remote, but workers are posting warning signs and closing nearby trails.

Officials with neither the county nor the state seem to know how much sewage has been spilled.

“With all the rain, it’ll be difficult to come up with an exact estimate, but they’ll make a guess based on what they saw of the overflow at the manholes,” said Hays, whose agency will be investigating the spill.

What they do know is that the situation wouldn’t be as bad if metro Atlanta wasn’t already saturated.

The National Weather Service deemed 2018 one of the wettest years metro Atlanta has ever had, with more than 65 inches of rain. In the soaking run-up to the end of year celebration, meteorologists predicted up to six inches of rain. 

Cavitt said back-up systems were in place, “but they were taken out in the incident.”

He said it is too early to determine how much this will cost the county.

For years, spills have caused large fines for governments throughout the metro area, the worst being in DeKalb County and the city of Atlanta.

Cobb County Government
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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

Cobb County Government

After more than 147 million gallons of wastewater spilled into the Chattahoochee in the five years prior to 2016, Atlanta got its initial approval to pay $378,000 in fines to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. 

DeKalb was fined $294,000 in 2017 for not only failing to uphold federal standards but also not reporting 48 sewage spills between 2012 and 2016. DeKalb county has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to improving its deteriorating sewage system.


When too little rain caused a problemCobb hopes Hurricane Florence can help rid 400K people of stinky water


Previous reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates Gwinnett and Cobb counties believe newer systems and routine maintenance have saved them from chronic spills.

Cobb is taking this one seriously.

“It will be all-hands-on-deck until we can address the situation and figure out what caused the problem,” Cobb commission chairman Mike Boyce said Wednesday in a news release.

Cobb has had to ask other municipalities, including one in South Florida, for extra pumps to clear the clogged pipes at the water treatment plant and the swollen manholes.


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JUST IN: Unknown amount of sewage overflows into Chattahoochee River offshoot

Photo Credit: www.accessatlanta.com
Days after a sewage backup sent inches of contaminated water into two homes, owners and tenants are fighting the county to get help cleadning and repairing the damage.

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  • More than 11,000 birds, and possibly as many as 13,000, were killed in a hailstorm on Aug. 11 when severe weather struck a wildlife preserve in Molt, Montana, about 20 miles outside Billings. >> Read more trending news  In addition, the storm flattened crops, broke windows and damaged roofs and vehicles in the region, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Agency wildlife biologist Justin Paugh estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of the waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area were killed or injured. 'Of the birds that still are alive, Paugh estimated that five percent of ducks on the lake and 30 percent to 40 percent of living pelicans and cormorants show some sign of injury or impaired movement – mostly broken wings and broken wing feathers,' the wildlife agency release said. The Washington Post reported that the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Molt just before 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 11, predicting hail and gusty winds. The storm dumped 3-inch hail and lashed the area with more than 70 mph winds.  'This isn't uncommon for us, but it normally happens in June,' NWS meteorologist Shawn Palmquist told the Post.'June is when we have lower freezing levels and can get hail. August is typically more a wind month,' Palmquist said. The preserve features a shallow lake and wetland used for nesting by dozens of species, including Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, gulls, ducks and pelicans. Paugh said wildlife officials are concerned that the dead birds and the injured ones could increase the possibility for disease among the remaining bird populations. 'On a positive note, the lake is still covered in waterfowl that are alive and healthy. Life will go on,' Paugh said. 
  • Emergency dispatchers in Kansas City, Missouri, received an influx of calls Tuesday morning when people saw a man dragging a lifelike, full-sized doll through the streets. >> Read more trending news Police began receiving calls around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday of people reporting a man 'carrying around a topless, unconscious woman on the west side of downtown,' Kansas City police said in a statement. Among the different reports, callers said the man looked like he wanted to throw the woman over a bridge, dropped the woman on a sidewalk and dragged her head over a curb, slung her over his shoulder and appeared to be trying to dress her, police said. One caller said the man was yelling, 'Savior!' Officers responded, and found that the 'woman' descibed in the call was actually a 'life-size female doll the man said he found in the dumpster of a restaurant,' according to the statement. Police told the man to not carry the doll in public anymore. A traffic camera captured some pictures of the man and the doll. The Police Department tweeted pictures of the incident, saying, 'And here is today's episode of 'Not What We Expected Going Into That.'
  • The Coast Guard is searching for two boaters who didn't return from a fishing trip Friday evening off the coast of Port Canaveral, Florida. >> More: How to help in the search [Via WJAX-TV] Brian McCluney and Justin Walker were last seen leaving the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp Friday in a 24-foot center console boat heading toward 8A Reef. >> Read more trending news  McCluney is a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Wilcox is a master technician with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. Update 2:20 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: The search for two firefighters last seen Friday continued up the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday. 'We're going to continue with everything we can throw at this until we realize we can't be successful,' U.S. Coast Guard Comm. Mark Vlaun said. Officials said they need volunteers with boats capable of traveling 60 miles offshore in Georgia and in South Carolina to assist in the search effort. Officials said 200 people in 75 boats and 11 aircraft spent Tuesday surveying 12,600 square miles of ocean in search of the men. Authorities said Wednesday that they didn't find any sign of the missing boaters on Tuesday or overnight. Officials were searching several debris areas. Update 7:56 a.m. EDT Aug. 21: The search continues Wednesday for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker. Family, friends and loved ones gathered at the Jacksonville Fire Fighter Hall for a prayer vigil on Tuesday evening. Although ActionNewsJax reporter Courtney Cole wasn't allowed inside the vigil out of respect and privacy for the families during this difficult time, she said the parking lot was full of cars that showed up to support the firefighters’ families. While Tuesday marked Day 5 of the search, McCluney’s wife, Stephanie, expressed her confidence in God’s power to bring her husband and Walker home.  'It's not manpower, it's God power — and he's doing amazing things,” she said. On Tuesday alone, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said 200 people, 75 boats and 11 aircrafts covered nearly 13,000 square miles, determined to find the firefighters. Walker’s firefighter brothers from Fairfax County have also now stepped in to help. Update 12:35 p.m. EDT Aug. 20: Officials with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said they will cover about 12,600 miles Tuesday in their search for two missing firefighters. On Tuesday, 10 aircraft and several boats were surveying the area with the help of law enforcement, fire and rescue officials and civilians, WJAX-TV reported. Crews focused on searching the area where a tackle bag belonging to one of the missing men was found Monday. Update 10:50 a.m. EDT Aug. 20: The wife of one of the boaters missing since Friday morning took her search efforts into the air Tuesday, WFTV reported. Natasha Walker caught a private flight from the Titusville airport to help comb the Florida coastline as the search continues for her husband, Justin Walker, and his friend, Brian McCluney. 'They know that we want them to keep fighting,' Natasha Walker told WFTV before boarding the plane. The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday afternoon that⁩ a volunteer found a tackle bag belonging to Brian McCluney about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. 'This is still absolutely a rescue mission,' Jacksonville fire Chief Keith Powers said Monday at a news conference. 'We're talking about a decorated combat vet here. We're talking about a firefighter paramedic. These guys have the skills ... to survive for a long time.' Kevin McCluney, the brother of Brian McCluney, told WFTV that if any people were resourceful enough to survive, it would be these two men. 'Between the two of them, I know they've got it locked down,' Kevin McCluney said. 'It's just a matter of time.' Brian McCluney's wife, Stephanie McCluney, told WFTV he underwent survival training during his time in the U.S. Navy and that Justin Walker is one of the most resourceful men she knows. 'If I were ever stranded anywhere, those were the two men I'd want to be stuck with,' she said. Coast Guard officials continued to search for the McCluney and Walker on Tuesday. Update 6:44 a.m. EDT Aug. 20: The search for two missing firefighters will continue Tuesday morning, authorities said. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department is calling on anyone who would like to help with the search and has the following items: A boat that can work in the range of 30-60 miles Binoculars A SAT phone (which is short for a satellite telephone. It’s a type of phone that connects to other phones by radio, orbiting through satellites.) Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 19: McCluney's wife said in a post on Facebook that her husband's tackle bag was found 50 miles off the shore of St. Augustine, WJAX-TV reported. The search for McCluney and his friend, Wilcox, continued Monday. Update 1:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 19: Officials with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said over 135 people assisted Monday with the search for McCluney and Walker. There were 36 boats searching from Brunswick, Georgia, to St. Augustine, Florida, on Monday, officials said. Searching for the missing boaters will continue until dark, JFRD officials said. Agency officials stressed Monday that the search was still a rescue mission. The missing men were raised on the water, according to JFRD. 'We're talking about a decorated combat vet here. We're talking about a firefighter paramedic. These guys have the skills,' a JFRD official said Monday at a news conference. 'These guys have the skills to survive for a long time.' Update 9:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 19: Authorities and volunteers continued to search Monday for McCluney and Walker. Coast Guard officials said Monday that crews have searched an estimated 24,000 miles since Friday. Authorities said they continued to search Monday from Port Canaveral up to Jacksonville. Officials with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department urged people in the area to contact authorities 'if you see something ... any debris, anything.' McCluney is a Jacksonville firefighter and Wilcox is a master technician with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 18: Multiple agencies have joined the search, On Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said crews are investigating reports of a debris field 50 miles east of St. Augustine, Florida, WJAX reported. However, they have confirmed it's not related to the missing boaters. Earlier Sunday, Stephanie Young McCluney, the wife of one of the missing men, thanked the efforts of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department in a Facebook post. According to a tweet from the agency, 50 firefighters were assisting the Coast Guard with the search. The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters has also set up a link for those wanting to help with search efforts.  'The donations will support the search efforts and ultimately the families of the firefighters,' according to the Jacksonville Firefighter Charities donation page. 'Thank you so much for your support and prayers!' Original report: In a Facebook post Saturday, McCluney's wife said the Coast Guard has suspended the air search until Sunday morning but will continue to search by boat and radar overnight. According to Stephanie McCluney's post, the search area will move north as the Coast Guard continues to survey the coast off Volusia County throughout the night. According to the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, McCluney is a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighter from Station 31 near Oak Hill Park. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said in a Facebook post that Walker is a master technician at the Virginia fire department near Washington, D.C. The Coast Guard had deployed a search plane and several boats to look for the overdue boaters. The Navy and Brevard County Sheriff's Office are assisting with the search. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • Pennsylvania authorities are investigating a Chester County priest accused of stealing almost $100,000 from a church in Downington and using the money to pay for a beach house in New Jersey, boyfriends, dinners and travel. >> Read more trending news  Monsignor Joseph McLoone, 58, was arrested Wednesday after a yearlong police investigation and an internal investigation by the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia that dates back to 2017, according to Philly Magazine. McLoone allegedly opened a secret bank account in 2011 that he used to divert funds from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for the past seven years, the publication reported. Prosecutors said McLoone used the stolen funds to pay for a beach home in Ocean City, New Jersey, as well as food and travel. After he was confronted by church officials, McLoone admitted to paying for “personal relationships” with other men, Philly Magazine reported. A police complaint said he sent thousands of dollars to men he met online through the Grindr app.  McLoone is facing 18 counts, including a number of felony theft charges. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia called the charges “serious and disturbing.” “The Archdiocese and the parish will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as the criminal matter enters its next phase. Pending the outcome, Monsignor McLoone remains on administrative leave. Information regarding his arrest will be shared with the Saint Joseph Parish community,” archdiocese Chief Communications Officer Kenneth Gavin told the magazine in an email. McLoone is free after posting a $50,000 bond.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States experiences flu epidemics every year.  >> Read more trending news Since 2010, the CDC estimates the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses. Here’s what you should know about the flu, the flu shot and more from experts in the field: What exactly is flu? According to the CDC, the flu is “a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.” Influenza viruses directly infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and can even be fatal. How does the influenza virus start? Influenza actually originates among birds and other animals in Southeast Asia and then spreads to Europe and, lastly, the U.S., William Schaffner, chair of Vanderbilt Medical School’s department of preventative medicine, told ABC News. How does the virus spread among humans? Humans spread the virus we have in our throats to others when we touch each other, especially noses and mouths, Schaffner said. Why are we so susceptible to the virus? It’s because the virus comes in different forms, and several forms, every year, according to Schaffner. Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter, though seasonal flu viruses can be found year-round in the U.S. According to the CDC, virus activity often increases in October and peaks between December and February. It can last through May. What are the symptoms of flu? Someone who is exposed to the flu virus may begin to experience the following symptoms about one to four days after exposure. From the CDC: Fever or feeling feverish/chills -- Note that not everyone will experience a fever. Cough Sore throat Runny or stuffy nose Muscle or body aches Headaches Extreme fatigue Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. How long is someone contagious after contracting the flu? An infected person may be able to infect other people and spread the illness one day before they even begin to experience symptoms. According to the CDC, the period of contagiousness can continue between 5-7 days after becoming ill. The period of contagiousness could last even longer for those with weakened immune systems, especially young children. Who is most at risk of getting the flu? According to the World Health Organization, pregnant women, older people, young children and people with certain chronic health conditions -- such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease -- are most at risk. What does the flu vaccine do? The seasonal vaccine protects against the form of the virus scientists are predicting will be most comon during the upcoming flu season. According to CDC experts, the traditional three-component flu vaccine protects against three flu viruses: H1N1, H3N2 -- both influenza A viruses -- and an influenza B virus. The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against those three plus an additional influenza B virus. Who should get a flu shot? CDC experts recommend everyone six months old or older receive a flu shot every year. What about the nasal spray flu vaccine? The CDC does not recommend the nasal spray flu vaccine during the 2017-2018 flu season. Injectable influenza vaccines are recommended instead. Can people with egg allergies receive the flu shot? Yes. CDC experts recommend those with severe egg allergies be vaccinated in a medical setting with a health care provider present. Should pregnant women receive the flu vaccine? Yes. Experts recommend pregnant women get the shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect both themselves and their babies. Will you get the flu from the flu shot? No, the vaccine cannot cause flu, according to the CDC. What are the side effects of a flu shot? Common mild side effects may include soreness or swelling, headaches, nausea, muscle aches and fever. The injection, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. When is the best time to get the flu shot? It takes about two weeks after getting the shot for the vaccine to protect against influenza. That’s why the CDC recommends people get vaccinated by the end of October, before the flu season starts to get bad. If October has passed, however, it is still beneficial to get vaccinated, even into January or later. How much does a flu shot cost and where can I get one? Under the Affordable Care Act, most people with insurance who go to a health care provider covered by their plan should receive the flu vaccine for free. Pharmacy chains, universities and other corporations have started offering the vaccines either for free or at low costs. Use the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder below to find a clinic near you. Just enter your ZIP code and hit “Go.”
  • Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you don’t need to be inoculated. >> Read more trending news  Thousands of adults become ill from diseases that a vaccine could have prevented, according to the CDC . Many are hospitalized, and some die. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, the CDC warns, the protection of that shot can wear off, requiring a booster. “What makes vaccines unique is that they protect the person who is vaccinated as well as the community in which they live,” Bruce Gellin told the Huffington Post. Gellin is president of global immunization at Sabin Vaccine Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that promotes vaccine development. The six vaccines for adults below are ones that are suggested by medical experts: HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration expanded use of the HPV vaccine to include people ages 27 to 45. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is sexually transmitted and is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause, according to the CDC. The CDC says about 14 million people — male and female — are infected with HPV each year, and most never know it. About 12,000 women are diagnosed with and about 4,000 women die from cervical cancer caused by certain HPV viruses. HPV viruses are also associated with several other forms of cancer affecting men and women. According to cancer.gov, Gardasil 9 is the only HPV vaccine available for use in the United States. Tdap vaccine You’re in the emergency room after stepping on a nail. What’s the first thing the doctor asks you? “When was your last tetanus shot?” If you can’t remember, then it’s time for a booster. Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).  As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August, whooping cough has been making a comeback. The potentially life-threatening childhood illness all but disappeared in the 1940s after a vaccine was developed. Changes in the vaccine and waning immunity are likely contributing to the resurgence of the illness, according to experts. Shingles vaccine (Shingrix) Almost one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, the CDC says. Your risk grows as you age. Additionally, over 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older. Shingles is a painful rash that usually clears up in two to four weeks. Some people, however, have suffered for months or even years, the CDC reports. The vaccine Shingrix was approved by the FDA in 2017, and the CDC recommends it over Zostavax, which has been used since 2006. Healthy adults 50 and older should get two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart, the CDC recommends. Pneumococcal vaccine Pneumococcal disease is an infection. If it gets in the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. If it gets in the bloodstream or tissues around the brain or spinal cord, it can cause meningitis. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, pneumococcal disease kills thousands in the U.S. each year, most of them age 65 years or older. The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for all adults over 65 and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions. Flu vaccine According to the CDC, “millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.” Because the flu virus can change, it’s important to be vaccinated each year. Travel vaccines “Adults traveling may benefit from typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera and yellow fever vaccinations depending on the location of their travel,” Amesh Adalja, a physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Huffington Post. For those wondering if they need to update their shots, the CDC has a checklist to help. Select where you’re going and what kind of traveler you are, and you’ll get a list of recommendations to help keep you healthy while traveling.