'Large amount of raw sewage': McDougald Terrace's numerous problems dating back to 2017 detailed in emails, reports

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Thursday, January 9, 2020
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'Large amount of raw sewage': McDougald Terrace's numerous problems dating back to 2017 detailed in emails, reports

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Newly-released documents and email exchanges that ABC11 has acquired show that carbon monoxide wasn't the only issue plaguing McDougald Terrace, which is operated by the Durham Housing Authority.

There were also sewage issues dating to 2017.

At that time, a Durham investigator noted in a Stormwater Investigation Report: "Very high ammonia and detergents (were) detected" and there was a "very strong sewer smell."

RELATED: How to help families forced to leave McDougald Terrace amid carbon monoxide scare

Just this past November, Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said in an email to DHA Executive Director Anthony Scott that "the problems of illegal and unsanitary discharge of domestic sewage from buildings are McDougald Terrace continue to be inadequately responded to by the Durham Housing Authority and need immediate attention."

"DHA has not provide weekly updates, which is required," Bonfield said.

DHA's Anthony Scott said Wednesday 70 units were inspected and 28 of those needed replacements of hot water, stoves and heaters due to CO emissions.

As of Tuesday morning, 225 hotel rooms are being occupied by McDougald residents.

WATCH: Children of McDougald Terrace tired of cramped hotel rooms but scared to return home

Documents show the city conducted an investigation in August that found, "a large amount of raw sewage was seen discharging from a private sanitary manhole owned by the Durham Housing Authority."

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DHA was issued a Notice of Violation.

As city officials were pushing DHA to make a permanent fix to the sewer lines, reports started coming in about concerns with carbon monoxide levels.

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An email from Durham Emergency Management Director Jim Groves stated: "Data shows that there were 7 incidents with elevated levels of CO in adults and infants from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24," and also notes there was one infant fatality in which, "We are unable to determine if the cardiac arrest was CO or other causes."

The city created a CO Task Force and found there were elevated readings in apartments by the stove or water heater.

Repairs have apparently been made to the sewer line.

A city official said the DHA reported the work has been done on the sewer line, although a city investigator has not yet gone to the site to inspect the repairs.


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