FILTHY WATER: Raw sewage flowed for hours after a mains sewer ruptured leaving a 27-metre long split in the road
FILTHY WATER: Raw sewage flowed for hours after a mains sewer ruptured leaving a 27-metre long split in the road

DAYS after a mains sewer ruptured, spewing thousands of gallons of raw human waste in Barnard Castle, angry residents and business owners are questioning who is responsible.

Witnesses say they heard a loud rumbling before the road “swelled and split”and sewage gushed from the 27-metre long split on Saturday.

For more than three hours human waste, toilet paper and used sanitary products gushed down The Bank, which was closed by the police until emergency crews could bypass the “collapsed” pipe and make temporary repairs. Before the sewer ruptured, estate agency GCS Grays had its cellar pumped out by a fire tender after it filled with water that was only “inches” from flowing into the offices.

Sandbags helped divert the flow of sewage from homes and businesses, but questions have now been asked.

Landlady Rima Chatterjee, who runs The Old Well Inn, said: “It was disgusting the smell on the day was awful. It’s hard enough for business at this time of year but to have this. It shouldn’t have reached this stage. I’m just so upset. Our trade has dropped off, dramatically even since Saturday. No one can park outside and we closed early on Sunday as no one was coming down.”

The entrance to Tinker Dog Computers was only metres away from the flow. Owner Ben Collins said: “My car was parked right on top of it and it was every where. I was really worried about the cellars here and it getting in.

“We had customers coming down during the day, but we couldn’t open – not with that flowing past the door. I don’t know how much lost business I’ve had. We already find it difficult as there isn’t much parking here, but it’s going to be even worse now because we don’t know how long this is going to take to fix.”

Mr Collins said he will operate a pick-up and drop-off service to clients for the duration of the repair work.

Pauline Connelly, who owns Connelly’s Toyshop on The Bank, said: “Thank goodness it wasn’t summer and dry as the smell would’ve been horrendous.”

Durham County Council’s clean and green team helped County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service to deal with the initial impact of the collapsed sewer. A spokeswoman said it is the responsibility of Northumbrian Water to repair the defect and clean up the area.

Jimmy Bennett, clean and green manager at Durham County Council, said staff provided sandbags to households and businesses.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Water said: “We have been working to repair a collapsed sewer in Barnard Castle over the weekend, which we believe was partly caused by recent heavy rainfall. Our technicians worked throughout Saturday and were able to isolate the damaged section to prevent further leaks from the sewer. We returned to the site on Sunday to complete the pipe repair.

“Only one property was affected by slight flooding due to the damaged sewer. We carried out decontamination to the area on Sunday to ensure the safety of the public.

“Temporary traffic lights are currently in place to allow us to reinstate the carriageway. We hope to be able to complete this work by the end of this week. We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and we are doing everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum while we complete our repair.”