Listen: 10257299

Periodic discharges spurting from local manholes. Sewer working cleaning up foam in the streets from sewer back-up. Manholes covers are blown off the manhole. The color of the foam and discharged is described. The city claims that the man hole covers haven't actually blown off.


text | pdf |

GREG BARRON: If you've ever wondered how safe it would be to stand around on top of one of those steaming manhole covers found around town, I'm here to tell you it's not a good idea, at least not near Park Square in Downtown Saint Paul. This morning I had the chance to witness the last half of a two act show that may turn out to be a new local tourist attraction-- periodic discharges of a sea of pinkish-yellow, foul-smelling muck spurting up from the local manholes.

Not believing my eyes nor my nose, I talked to the worker cleaning up the mess. Somehow, he managed to take it in stride.

What's been going on out here this morning?

SPEAKER 1: Well, I've just got a little foam in the street.

GREG BARRON: Well, how did this all happen?

SPEAKER 1: It's kind of something-- normally happens all the time. It's just the sewer kind of backs up a little bit. Just some type of foam forms and just kind of blows the manhole cover off.

GREG BARRON: And it actually blew that manhole cover off?

SPEAKER 1: Well, it has been known to lift it a couple of feet in the air sometimes, yeah.

GREG BARRON: Is that right? Well, describe this foam.

SPEAKER 1: It's just a heavy white-gray or white and kind of gold colored foam. Just kind of comes out.

GREG BARRON: What have you been-- you've been out here sweeping it off the street.

SPEAKER 1: Yeah. Just kind of squeegeeing it off, yeah.

GREG BARRON: How much of it was there?

SPEAKER 1: Not a heck of a lot out this time. It kind of dissipates after a little while.

GREG BARRON: Well, now, how often does this happen anyway?

SPEAKER 1: Well, a couple of times a week. And maybe sometimes it goes for a couple of weeks without happening. So.

GREG BARRON: Well, isn't this kind of dangerous, a manhole cover coming up like that?

SPEAKER 1: Well, I suppose it might be, yeah. I don't know. I really can't say much about it though. Just told to go down and do it. It's part of our job, I guess, to come down and take care of it. That's about all really to say about it, you know?

GREG BARRON: It turns out that the problem is caused by waste discharge from a nearby building, and city officials are working with the company to find a solution. It should be said too that company officials say the manhole lids have never actually blown off but usually only ooze away. The sight of the crud, though, leaves a lasting impression.

Well, what did the foamy stuff look like? Describe it.

SPEAKER 2: I can't. It was awful. It smelled even worse. And the cars were going through it and splashing it all over the road and the people in the streets.


With ooze on my feet, this is Greg Barron.



Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>