Plastic pipes part of fix for giant sinkhole

Catherine Kavanaugh, on March 30, 2017

Fraser, Mich. - About two miles of polyethylene pipes are carrying raw sewage around a damaged drain interceptor in the Detroit suburb of Fraser, where a sinkhole the size of a football field opened up last Christmas Eve, partially swallowing one house, causing irreparable damage to two others and displacing residents of another 20 homes.

Sixty feet below, an 11-foot-wide sewer interceptor made of non-reinforced concrete had collapsed. The earth gave way and left a 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long crater along part of a system that transports sewage from 11 cities to a giant transmission line, which then moves it to a treatment plant.

This was the third sewer line failure since 1978 in almost the same place. This time, the shifting ground destroyed three houses and allowed the release of 13 million gallons of wastewater into the Clinton River. It was a choice between releasing wastewater or the risk of raw sewage backing up into thousands of basements in two cities.

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