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Ritz-Carlton Sewage Overflows into Great Bay

Oct. 14, 2004 — Planning and Natural Resources Department officials said Wednesday afternoon that the water in Great Bay, near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, has been contaminated.
DPNR had collected water samples for testing from Great Bay and Vessup Bay after a power outage in the area Sunday caused an outflow of raw sewage from the Ritz-Carlton sewage treatment plant into the Great Bay area, according to a DPNR release.
Aaron Hutchings, acting director of DPNR's Division of Environment Health, said one out of five samples taken from Great Bay close to the Ritz showed high levels of contamination.
"This water presents an elevated health risk to humans," Hutchings said. "Residents and guests are to avoid the impacted area. This includes activities such as swimming and bathing."
Children and individuals with compromised immune systems should avoid contaminated areas, Hutchings said, because their immune systems could be further weakened. Hutchings said high levels of contamination were not present in other areas of Great Bay and Vessup Bay and these areas should be safe for swimming. The DPNR release called the specific contaminated beach "Bluebeard's beach."
Brad Jencks, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, said DPNR has not yet contacted him about the matter but he had authorized the beach area by the Ritz-Carlton Club to be closed off pending the results.
Jencks said the hotel had Caribbean Safe Water test the area as well.
"The report that we have from them showed no runoff into the ocean," Jencks said, adding he would wait for DPNR's report, which he expected Thursday.
A DPNR spokesman said Thursday at about 3 p.m. that the report should be in soon.
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