Residents staying at an Atlantic City motel say raw sewage has been flowing into a marsh in the back of the building causing a terrible smell and unsanitary conditions.
A viewer sent NBC10 cell phone video of what they say is raw sewage being pumped from a pit behind the Econo Lodge on Albany Avenue in Atlantic City into a back bay marsh. The residents say it’s been happening every other day for nearly two months.
“I think it’s disgusting,” said Angela Torres, a resident who was displaced by Superstorm Sandy and has been staying at the motel with her family since September. “I mean people come down and they crab in that bay and the high school is right there. You’re contaminating too many people.”
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Torres says the smell became so bad on Sunday she called police.
“Tenants here are claiming that somebody is dumping waste into the sewage area and it’s making them all sick,” a responding officer said.
Authorities say pumping anything into the bay is illegal. NBC10 reached out to the manager of the motel for comment but have not yet received a response.
An environmental health inspector came to the motel Monday after NBC10 contacted the city’s health department. Nothing was being pumped while he was there however.
The inspector said he’s launching an investigation and will notify the state department of environmental protection. The inspector told NBC10 management said a piece of equipment used to pump sewage from the pit to public sewer lines had broken and a septic company was draining it. Health Department officials say a part to replace the broken equipment is set to be installed on Tuesday.
Even though the Atlantic City motel carries the Econo Lodge name, it was terminated from the Econo Lodge franchise system back on April 9, according to a spokeswoman for Choice Hotels International.
“Upon notice on that date, any brand signs or markings should have been taken down,” the spokeswoman said. “It should not be operating as an Econo Lodge.”