Two Tennessee workers die in sewage plant collapse

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) – Two workers were killed in Tennessee on Tuesday when the wall of a basin that holds up to 1.5 million gallons of sewage at a treatment plant collapsed on them, authorities said.

The bodies of the two workers from the Veolia Water North America plant were found under a section of the collapsed wall Tuesday evening, Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said in a statement.

They were identified as John Eslinger, 53, and Don Storey, 44.

The city and Veolia “are expressing deepest sympathies to the families and are extremely saddened to lose co-workers and good friends,” employees and officials said in a statement.

The collapse of the wall Tuesday morning spilled sewage and rainwater into the Little Pigeon River at Gatlinburg in eastern Tennessee, said Dean Flener, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

A mudslide had occurred early Tuesday about a mile from the plant, but the cause of the collapse at the facility was still under investigation, the city and company said. It was not clear how much sewage escaped.

Gatlinburg is at the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The spill was being investigated by state and local emergency services coordinators as well as the state health and conservation departments.

People were advised to stay out of the Little Pigeon down river from the spill, and wash thoroughly if they came in contact with the water.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni and David Bailey)

Two Tennessee workers die in sewage plant collapse