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Fine proposed after sewer, water pipes crossed

MOBILE (AP) — A $100,000 fine has been proposed against Foley-based Baldwin County Sewer Service LLC for the cross-connection of pipes that ended up piping human waste into a subdivision's drinking water supply.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management on Wednesday released the action and a 14-page consent order.

The order provides a long list of errors in the incident that threatened the residents of the Dogwood Dells subdivision, near Fish River, with the possibility of serious illness.

The fine is believed to be one of the biggest the ADEM has ever imposed on a private utility. The order states that the company has agreed to the fine but has not admitted fault.

ADEM also gave the company the option to take certain remedial measures. These could decrease the fine by a maximum of $75,000, depending on how much the company spends.

Clarence Burke Jr., the owner of Baldwin County Sewer Service LLC, signed the order. It won't become final until after a 30-day public comment period and ADEM's review of those comments.

Dogwood Dells residents sued the company and the city of Fairhope in Baldwin County Circuit Court earlier this year.

The lawsuit remains active and claims that, as a result of the mix-up, residents "cooked with raw sewage, drank raw sewage, bathed in raw sewage, brushed their teeth with raw sewage, cleaned their homes and personal property with raw sewage and served raw sewage to their families and friends over a period of several months.''

No illnesses were reported to the state's environmental regulatory agency.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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