SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

September 5, 2012

Sewers get clogged arteries, too

WASHINGTON — As the lunch hour faded on a recent workday, Ed Hairfield and his crew roared into the parking lot of a Panda Express.

They stood a few feet from the Hyattsville, Md., restaurant's door, where mouth-watering aromas drifted out each time it opened. But the crew of one of the Washington, D.C., area's largest sanitary systems could not care less about the menu's SweetFire Chicken Breast. They only cared about the lard.

Every day, up to five times a day, Hairfield's six-man Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission crew pops open a hatch next to a store or restaurant to study a nasty sight: lumpy grease buildup from cooked animal and vegetable fat.

It's the same stuff that makes flabby bellies jiggle and roll, that clogs arteries and stops hearts, and the crews are deployed to keep it from doing the same to WSSC's network of sewer pipes. This year and last, inspectors issued 31 citations to pizza joints, Chinese restaurants, cafes and other establishments for failing to properly maintain pricey interceptors that stop thick kitchen grease from backing up pipes.

But the blame doesn't fall solely on restaurants. Grease is poured down kitchen drains by hundreds of thousands of household cooks in the region, and by hundreds of millions of people nationwide. Coagulated fat from fried bacon, steaks, chicken, burgers and potatoes cools into a pipe-choking yellowish blob after flowing into sewers, causing serious overflows that threaten homes and the Chesapeake Bay.

Around Thanksgiving, WSSC officials brace themselves, commission spokeswoman Lyn Riggins said. That's when thousands of people deep-fry turkeys and pour tubs of lard down drains. Last year during the holiday, WSSC ran public service announcements in theaters before movies on the proper way to dispose of grease at home.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Salem's Collins seeks longer day

    SALEM -- Collins Middle School may look a little different next year. For starters, longtime Principal Mary Manning, who has headed the school for more than 20 years, is retiring and will be replaced by a new, yet-unnamed principal. More than that, t

    April 19, 2014 6 Stories

  • 140418_SN_KYU_WALK_2 Walking the Walk BEVERLY -- Four hundred thirty walkers, 10.5 miles and $65,000. Those are the numbers you can count on just about every year from the Good Friday Walk. The 35th annual walk produced those figures once again yesterday, with the money going to help nee

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Marblehead chief charts drop in crime MARBLEHEAD -- Police chief Robert Picariello has highlighted an overall drop in crime from 2012 to 2013 in his annual report to the town. The decrease was substantial in the category of crimes against persons, down 23 percent for incidents like rape,

    April 19, 2014

  • North Shore residents to run in 2014 Boston Marathon

    The Salem News asked those on the North Shore who are running this year's Boston Marathon to share their reasons for running. 

    If you're running the marathon this year, it's not too late to share why you're running. Send a brief paragraph, a photo of yourself and a link to your fundraising site (if applicable) to Cheryl Richardson at crichardson@salemnews.com.

    April 17, 2014

  • One-way school bus passes to get trial run in Peabody PEABODY -- Students will be able to ride the school bus one way next year without paying the price of a round-trip fare. The School Committee has agreed to offer one-way passes on a trial basis following review of transportation data and a proposal f

    April 19, 2014