Sewage in Drinking Water: Lodge Cover-Up Claimed – August 4, 1975

Sewage in Drinking Water: Lodge Cover-Up Claimed

News Journal
Mansfield, O.
August 4, 1975

EUGENE. Ore. (UPI) —Actions were taken at a privately operated lodge in Crater Lake National Park to keep the public from knowing about a gastroenteritis sickness that eventually closed the park, it was reported Sunday.

The park, which features the nation’s deepest lake, was closed July 11 when health officials discovered that a blocked sewer line had resulted in raw sewage draining into the park’s main drinking water source.

The park reopened last Friday and water purification equipment on loan from the Army is still being used in the park.

The Eugene Register-Guard, in an copyrighted article, also charged that park rangers failed to detect the widespread illness among park employes and visitors in the weeks prior to the park’s closure.

Sen. Mark 0. Hatfield (R-Ore.) has been assured of a congressional investigation into the events surrounding the 21- day closure of the park, believed to be unprecedented in national park history, the paper said.

The Register-Guard investigation revealed that:

— Water samples taken in May — nearly two months before the park closure — showed a portion of the park’s system to be contaminated.

— More than 100 park employes were sick on June 30 — 12 days before the park was closed — even though the park superintendent, Richard Sims, said that he had reports of no more than 10 people sick on any one day.

— Employes of Crater Lake Lodge were handling food when sick with diarrhea.

— Employes said they were told by supervisors not to talk about their illness around the tourists, and that they witnessed newspapers containing stories about the illness being hid from the tourists.

— Klamath County health officials asked to inspect the park’s water and restaurant facilities but were discouraged from doing so by park officials.

Crater Lake Lodge, Inc. holds a 30-year lease from the National Park Service to operate a lodge, two restaurants, grocery store, snack bar, drug store and 27 cabins.

Ann Hurley, 20, Portland. Ore., an employee, told the paper, “the thing that made me the maddest was there were no facilities, no infirmaries, no doctors, no nurses.”

“They told us over and over that all we had was the flu — the Crater Lake Crud.” Miss Hurley said. She said they were told ‘it happens every year. They told us to drink lots of liquid — to drink the water’