Couple covered in sewage after digestive tank bursts

2014-10-02 00:00

A BLOEMFONTEIN woman is lucky to be alive after the Ford Ka she was in was covered in an explosion of raw sewage on Monday morning.

Elize Baldock had just dropped off her husband, Johnathan (58), at his workshop next to the digestive tanks at the Bloemfontein sewage works when a tank exploded, sending a flood of raw sewage into the immediate vicinity.

The force of the explosion ripped off Elize’s shoes and all but ripped her from the car she was clinging for dear life as megalitres of raw sewage carried her husband right through the rolled down door of his worksop in a small tsunami.

Elize said she was standing next to the Ka’s open door and was pointing out to her husband that the dam was leaking when the tanks exploded.

“I was covered from head to toe in raw sewage, but I clung to the car for my life. It was frightful, with the stinking sewage being forced into my eyes, ears, nose and throat.

“After I crawled from the mess [she had a knee operation four months ago], my arms were blue from the force of the flow.”

Johnathan said the tank that exploded was the first to contain over 15 megalitres of raw sewage as it arrived at the plant.

Wikipedia explains that mesophilic anaerobic digestion (MAD) is a common method to treat sludge produced at sewage treatment plants. The sludge is fed into large tanks and held for at least 12 days to allow bacteria to break down complex proteins and sugars to form more simple compounds such as water, carbon dioxide and methane.

The couple showered at the offices and were given clothes to wear by the staff to the Life-Rosepark Hospital.

“My wife must now take antibiotics for her eyes, ears, nose and throat. She has diarrhoea from all the stuff she got in.”

The Baldocks said it was a disaster “of epidermic proportions” as Oubaas of the TV series 7de Laan would have said. They say their little Ford Ka can now get a second K to spell sewage in crude Afrikaans.

Bloemfontein city manager Sibongile Mazibuko has since sent the Baldocks flowers and calls to apologise for their misadventure.

Bloemfontein city engineer Luvuyo Ntoi said a blocked valve caused pressure to build up inside the digestive tank. He said the damage may amount to millions.

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