Long Island, New York is often though of as where the leaders of Manhattan rest their heads at night. This opulent community is home to some of the wealthiest families living in the most spectacular homes and estates in the country. This luxurious island has a secret though: it is home to the most amount of cesspools in the country, nearly 500,000 residences. Some of these cesspools are newer, being built within the past 50 years, but some of these cesspools are over 100 years old, and cause the biggest environmental risk on the island.
A cesspool is basically a large concrete pit, or well, that is hooked up to the plumbing of a home or building. Waste is pumped from the indoor plumbing and is housed in these tanks. These tanks require regular cesspool pumping and maintenance to keep them in working condition. However, even a cesspool or septic system that has been properly maintained, is at risk of a cesspool emergency, or even a full collapse -- due to its age.
Long Island cesspools not only propose a danger of collapse, but an improperly maintained cesspool can also crack, or leak, without the owner knowing about it; allowing the waste to contaminate soil and groundwater below and around the tank. Unlike modern sewage systems (which pump a connected web of pipes to a secure place), cesspools are treated with chemicals and toxins -- in order to break down the waste so that it is not a raw biological hazard. Improper cesspool or septic tank pumping can lead to severe burns from these chemicals, breathing problems, explosions, and even death.
It is for all of these dangers that cesspool owners (especially Long Island cesspool owners) are encouraged to take the time to regularly maintain cesspools, make sure that your cesspool installation or repairs are done by a certified professional, and to be wary at all times of the pit below the house. A cesspool can be a modern sanitary-wonder, or it can be a hideous danger hidden below your home.