VESTAL, NY – The board that operates the Binghamton Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment Plant had some good news to share at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Plant Superintendent Elliott Wagner announced that repairs following the catastrophic spill that occurred in February are nearly complete, well ahead of schedule.

On the morning of February 18th, a window built into a purification chamber blew out causing as much as 3 million gallons of liquid sewage to pour out inside the Biological Aerated Filtration building.

The window that failed was installed as part of a $274 million rehabilitation project that was largely finished last year.

Back in April when cleanup was finished, repairs were estimated to take another 6 months.

As of Tuesday, 50% of the final stage of filtration was back on line with workers estimating that it could be working at full capacity in another 2 weeks.

Wagner says management has been pushing contractors to work quickly and that the odor around the plant has diminished greatly.

Plant Superintendent Elliott Wagner says, “We’ve been noticing a lot more wildlife along the river at the effluent. There were actually 3 egrets, about 5 herons out there today, red tailed hawk, amongst other. We saw mink the other day. So, it’s looking up for the wildlife.”

Board Chairman George Kolba, Junior tells NewsChannel 34 that the cost of the cleanup and repairs has been about $5 million so far.

He says that it will be covered by insurance and that he expects the insurance company to seek compensation from the firms that designed and/or installed the window that failed.

Kolba cautioned residents that any foam witnessed in the river near the discharge point will be a natural byproduct of the growth of the bacteria which is necessary to consume some of the harmful components of the sewage.

Meanwhile, the board voted to adopt a proposed budget for next year that would be 1.2% less than this year.

However, Board member Ed Crumb cautioned that the owners, Binghamton and Johnson City, might make changes to the budget and that there is not a direct correlation between the plant’s budget and sewer rates, which have been rising in our area in recent years.

Also, Kolba says that litigation over a wall collapse that occurred back in 2011 is scheduled to go to trial next month unless an out of court settlement can be reached beforehand.