Blood Sprays Out of Sewer, On City Worker
(WCCO) Minneapolis A Minneapolis city worker is worried about blood in the sewer system because he said, while he was cleaning the system, blood sprayed out of a hole and got all over him.
"We could tell it was blood, I mean large amount of blood," said Minneapolis Sewer Maintenance Worker Ron Huebner.
It happened about two weeks ago in Northeast Minneapolis near a lab that does medical testing and dumps blood into the sewer. It is allowed but the city is now making changes to help protect workers in the future.
"Blood just all over my face, in my mouth, I could taste it. It was terrible. I had it in my mouth and I kept spitting and I couldn't get rid of it," said Huebner.
Huebner said he hasn't been sleeping much. He's worried about the blood that he swallowed when he was operating a jet machine to clean out the sewer.
The Met Council said it was a mix of human and animal blood used in medical testing at this nearby lab.
In fact, the company, R & D Systems, does have a permit to dump blood in the sewer system.
However, Huebner wasn't protected or warned about the blood because his immediate bosses didn't know about.
"We did not specifically know that this particular facility was discharging blood into the sewer system," said Minneapolis Public Works Deputy Director Heidi Hamilton.
There have been some changes, including more coordination among city departments so key information in permits gets to the right people and there's more required safety gear.
"We have changed the procedure to ensure they're wearing goggles or a face mask while they are above that manhole," said Hamilton.
The Met Council is changing the permit to say that the city has to warn the lab it's coming to clean the sewer, and the lab has to stop discharging blood until they're done. R & D told the city the blood shouldn't present any risk, but Huebner's still worried.
"I'm going to hope that nothing's wrong with me, but I don't want to see this happen to anyone else in my department," said Huebner.
The Met Council issued the permit. When asked if it's safe to have blood in the sewers, the Met Council said it is no more harmful than most other wastes in the sewer.
The sanitary sewer system is the appropriate place for this type of liquid wastes. There are other companies that have permits to discharge blood in the sewer system.
According to the Met Council, there are about four slaughterhouses, about 20 hospitals, and about a dozen medical and pharmaceutical companies that have permits.