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Millions of sewage disks washing ashore

BOSTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Plastic sewage disks are washing up on Massachusetts beaches after an inadvertent release of millions from a New Hampshire water treatment plant, officials say.

The small pieces of white plastic mesh, used to clean potentially harmful bacteria from wastewater, were released from the Hooksett, N.H., plant due to a malfunction after heavy rainstorms March 6, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

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Richard K. Sullivan Jr., Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said crews in his state have picked up more than 1 million of the disks.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services said the Hooksett plant held more than 39 million of the 2-inch disks and as many as 20 percent were released.

"It's a lot, and they just keep moving down south," Sullivan said.

While recent tests on the disks have come up negative for harmful bacteria, some initial tests in Seabrook, N.H., on March 11 showed the disks contained E. coli and enterococci bacteria, which can cause serious illnesses, the Globe reported.

Hooksett has assumed financial responsibility for the disks, Sullivan said, and communities can bill the town directly for cleanup efforts.

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