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Damaged septic tank leaking raw sewage in La Vergne neighborhood

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LAVERGNE, TN (WSMV) -

Neighbors in La Vergne have quite a mess on their hands after a damaged septic tank began spewing raw sewage into yards and near their homes. City officials are calling it a health hazard.

Dorothy Dunaway has been living in filth for months now through no fault of her own.

"It had overflowed so bad and seeped out in the living room, damaging my carpet," Dunaway said. "The plumbing was backing up, the toilet overflowed. Sewage was coming up in the bathtub, my closet and the sinks."

Dunaway pays $400 a month rent for her double-wide mobile home, which she owns outright, to sit a piece of land on Merritt Drive in La Vergne. Now, the broken septic tank in the backyard is causing more problems than she cares to talk about.

"The smell of the sewer coming up in the house is bad enough to deal with, let alone dealing with people's actual sewage in coming inside," she said.

Apparently, there are only two septic tanks servicing seven mobile homes.

City Codes Director Randolph Salyers said the raw sewage from the damaged tank could contaminate the entire neighborhood.

"Any time you have raw sewage exposed to the elements like that, hepatitis can be in that sewage, other forms of bacteria. And diseases can be spread throughout the community by having raw sewage out on the ground like that," Salyers said.

Salyers said animals can also spread feces throughout the neighborhood.

The owners have put a blue tarp over the septic tank and surrounded it with bales of hay to try and contain the sewage, but city officials are still concerned about the persistent rainfall last week.

"It needs to be contained so it will not get to the streams and rivers," Salyers said.

The problem is the owner of the property passed away, so the new owners said they don't have the money to fix the septic tank. Neither can they pay the $1,500 to $2,000 tap fee per home to hook up to the city sewer system.

Seven homeowners were sent a letter, giving them 30 days to vacate the property, which the owners hope to sell.

Dunaway is disabled and can't afford to pay the estimated $7,500 it will take to move her mobile home.

"I have nowhere to move it. I have nowhere to go," she said. "I'm going to end up losing everything I own, my house and end up being homeless."

City codes officials say they have been taking heat from the homeowners who may be forced to move.

They want to make it clear, though, that the decision came from the landowner, not the city.

They said there are strict international codes regulations they have to follow, so they've only asked the owners fix the problem or connect all seven homes to the city sewer system.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation hasn't been contacted yet.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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