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Spike In Grease Puts Mandarin Wastewater Plant In Danger


Officials at a Mandarin wastewater facility are looking for the source of a huge increase in fats, oils and grease coming into the plant.

As the Mandarin Newsline first reported, the amount of grease in the water has more than quadrupled since June.

Officials at the facility believe something illegal is causing the influx.

Five massive pumps and a series of screen filters work to treat sewage at a Mandarin wastewater treatment facility for close to 70,000 JEA customers nearby.

But with the recent spike in fats, oils and grease in the water, manager Robbie Parks says that process could grind to a halt.

“In this application it would cause the pumps to overheat, and it could interfere with the things that sense the levels of the water and turn the pumps off and on,” Parks says.

In June the facility processed around 74 tons fatty grease — a relatively average number. But in August that number was 314 tons.

Parks says it’s possible someone is illegally disposing of grease.

“There’s a lot of haulers that observe the rules and regulations, but illegal dumping is just that. And if there’s questionable looking activity around a JEA system, around manholes and so forth ... it’d be best to call,” Parks says.

Officials are conducting an investigation. As always, Parks says customers should dispose of extra cooking oil in garbage and not down the drain. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.