250,000 gallons of untreated waste spill into Johnston County creek

(David Hurst/CBS North Carolina)

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Crews completed repair work on sewage lines in Smithfield Monday after about 250,000 gallons of untreated waste spilled Sunday.

A break in a pipeline led to the spill that sent the waste into Swift Creek.

The North Carolina Division of Water Resources is investigating the leak.


Repairs to the pipeline took around 24 hours to complete.

The pipeline break was discovered after a public works employee noticed an odor after doing a routine check.

County officials quickly worked to divert the wastewater but not before hundreds of thousands of gallons spilled into the nearby creek.

“Unfortunately sewer spills are something that do happen, 250,000 gallons is a pretty daggum big deal,” said Matthew Starr with Upper Neuse Riverkeeper.

Swift Creek spans 66-square miles and is part of the Upper Neuse River Basin.

Starr says the creek helps support 13-rare aquatic species.

“They’re required to try to contain and clean as much as possible and when you’re talking the magnitude of 250,000 gallons, that’s a pretty daunting task and I would expect there to be implications downstream for the environment,” Starr said.

Starr says the creek was already considered impaired and this spill could only compound the issue.

Many residents CBS North Carolina spoke with said they haven’t noticed any smell from the leak. But nonetheless, the Riverkeeper advises anyone who lives nearby to avoid going in or near the creek.

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