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Man rescued from sewage digester

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

A contracted worker broke a leg Tuesday after falling into more than a foot of dirty water at the bottom of a tank being cleaned at Austin’s wastewater treatment facility.

Austin firefighters and police responded about 12:15 p.m., with firefighters putting the man onto a backboard to be lifted out of the tank. Police Chief Paul Philipp said. He was decontaminated at Austin Medical Center.

The man, hired to clean the digester, fell into about 11⁄2 feet of dirty water in the tank, the chief said.

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"He was pretty covered, I guess," said Philipp, who didn’t have a report from the incident with the man’s name and other details.

A digester is a large, concrete tank where bacterial action is induced and accelerated to break down sludge or organic matter.

City officials on Monday reported that a digester near the Cedar River was undergoing a major cleaning project when significant flooding occurred Thursday. Water from underneath the tank caused damage to its flooring as a result of ground saturation, officials said, allowing water into the tank.

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