Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Old cars, refrigerators used as septic tanks

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Environmental inspectors accused a property owner in Whitley County of using old refrigerators as septic tanks.

        And in Boyd County, they found homeowners who piped their sewage into buried automobiles.

        Although crackdowns on illegal disposal of sewage have cut the amount of raw sewage piped into the ground and streams, such discoveries still occur, said Steve Schwartz, a solid-waste coordinator in Williamsburg.

        Mr. Schwartz has cited Tammy Sharp, 39, of Twin Oaks, with five felony counts of illegally disposing of sewage for using buried refrigerators as septic tanks.

        “I had never seen anything like this,” he said Tuesday.

        Ms. Sharp, who was cited in December, denied the charges. She faces fines of up to $125,000.

        Mr. Schwartz said some people have sought methods less expensive than the typical $4,000 home septic system.

        Brian Elswick, a health environmentalist for the FIVCO District Health Department in Ashland, said people can be inventive in creating makeshift septic systems. “I've seen people use old cars,” Mr. Elswick said. “They'll dig a big hole near a creek bed and put a car down in it and run a pipe to the car.” Mr. Elswick said he has found two such instances. In both cases, the property owners were ordered to build a legal septic system.


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