Pla­cen­tia man de­liv­ers sewage prob­lem to coun­cil’s front door

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

South­east Pla­cen­tia’s Jim Mur­phy was tired of the stench of raw sewage drift­ing across his nose.

It’s what prompted him to dump a bucket of the ran­cid hu­man waste over the front desk of the town’s of­fices dur­ing his lunch break last Tues­day.

“It is quite lit­er­ally a chunk of fe­ces,” said Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne D. Power.

The move shocked the town em­ployee at the front desk and the Pla­cen­tia Town Hall was closed for sev­eral hours as cleanup en­sued. The lo­cal branch of the RCMP were called due to the in­ci­dent. Mur­phy later vol­un­tar­ily turned him­self over to po­lice Tues­day evening.

He didn’t file a state­ment and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. Mur­phy told The Com­pass he is be­ing charged with mis­chief and will have a court date later this year.

Mur­phy said sewer prob­lems have been the norm since mov­ing into his home in the 1990s. For years, raw sewage flowed into the river run­ning along­side the home.

“There used to be small trout swim­ming there, but they’re gone now,” said Mur­phy.

In the win­ter of 2014, a pipe — which Mur­phy said is lined with as­bestos — that runs into the river froze. With the sewer back­ing up, the only spot for the ma­te­rial to go was into his toi­let and un­der his deck.

The sit­u­a­tion got so bad that Mur­phy was forced to use a sledge­ham­mer to punch a hole in the line, which sent sewer gush­ing over the bank in­stead of into his home. He has since re­placed the deck and in­stalled a back­wa­ter valve to help com­bat the prob­lem.

“If there was as­bestos at a work site, they’d come shut you down,” said Mur­phy of the pipe. “I’m af­ter driv­ing kids off of there.”

In a news re­lease, RCMP en­cour­aged res­i­dents “when deal­ing with oth­ers, to en­sure that they are do­ing so in a re­spect­ful, cour­te­ous and safe man­ner.”

Mur­phy’s stunt Tues­day af­ter­noon drew the at­ten­tion of town of­fi­cials. A day later, a spe­cial­ized vac­uum truck was at the site and town of­fi­cials ar­rived to make re­pairs to the lift sta­tion.

While he fig­ures it’s strange re­pairs would be made just a day af­ter the in­ci­dent, Mur­phy be­lieves the prob­lem will only hap­pen again.

“I’ve got a lit­tle piece of plas­tic pro­tect­ing me when (the lift sta­tion) shuts down and the pipes freeze up. They put a new pump on her now and that sewage is pump­ing to the block­house, but that doesn’t take care of the ma­jor prob­lem. That is the pipe,” said Mur­phy. “Maybe, it’s a co­in­ci­dence. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Mur­phy’s ac­tions did not sit well with some of the town’s elected of­fi­cials. Power called the in­ci­dent “un­ac­cept­able” and was taken aback when he was first ap­prised of the sit­u­a­tion.

“It was a shock­ing phone call to re­ceive. It was a ‘what did you just tell me’ type of sit­u­a­tion,” said the mayor. “It was some­what un­be­liev­able, but to see it, it was un­ac­cept­able.”

Since the pipe froze in 2014, Power said last Tues­day’s in­ci­dent was the first com­plaint they had re­ceived from Mur­phy.

“There was no prior phone call be­fore to Tues­day and as soon as we found out his name and ad­dress, we sent a pub­lic works crew there to see if there was a prob­lem,” he said. “They did en­counter a mal­func­tion. That’s the na­ture of that equip­ment, that can hap­pen and that’s what hap­pened yes­ter­day.”

Power ad­vised res­i­dents to take other av­enues when they en­counter a prob­lem in the town.

“The first course for res­i­dents would be to con­tact the of­fice, con­tact the staff and file that there is prob­lem,” he said. “If you don’t get ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion taken, con­tact my­self or a coun­cil­lor and we can look into it as well.”

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

South­east Pla­cen­tia’s Jim Mur­phy was hav­ing a prob­lem with raw sewage, that was un­til he dumped a bucket of the stuff over the town’s front desk last Tues­day.

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