Broward County

Hollywood contemplates lawsuit over sewage spill

Hollywood is looking to recover nearly a $1 million spent on cleanup and repair costs after a sewer pipe burst in November 2011, sending more than 20 million gallons of raw sewage into a neighborhood.

GlobeTec Construction, which had been installing a new sewer line when the break occurred, was responsible, the city says.

“We absolutely feel they are liable for most, if not all, of the damages,” said City Attorney Jeff Sheffel, who will ask the Hollywood City Commission at Wednesday’s meeting for permission to move forward with a lawsuit if necessary. “Up until now we have not received a tremendous amount of cooperation.”

GlobeTec could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Sheffel said the break of the 48-inch pipe happened because the company didn’t finish what needed to be completed in time, which allowed more sewage to build up, causing the pipe to rupture.

“The city’s position is even though the force main wasn’t in perfectly new condition, it didn’t burst until GlobeTec was way off on time,” he said.

The spill affected Taft Street and North 31st Road, just west of Interstate 95, and involved more than 30 homes and the Greater Hollywood YMCA.

The sludge spilled into the backyards and was eventually diverted into the C-10 canal, raising environmental concerns. The state ended up not fining the city for the spill.

At the time, the city said it had no choice but to force the sewage into the canal.

The costs racked up as the city paid to clean up the YMCA’s pool, homeowner’s yards and the canal. Hollywood also had costs associated with the emergency fix to the pipe.

Vice Mayor Dick Blattner said he is hoping GlobeTec will step up and take responsibility, but if not, the city has no choice but to sue.

“We believed from the start that this was an operator error,” he said. “I think this is appropriate.”

Also on Wednesday’s agenda:

• The commission will consider approving a new contract for firefighters that would cost the city $4.6 million over two years and could give raises as high as 24.5 percent.

• The commission will consider giving final approval to a new law that would limit where pharmacies can open up. New pharmacies would have to be at least a half a mile from existing stores.

The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd.