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Human waste still pouring into NY Harbor after Sandy

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The operator of the fifth largest sewage treatment plant in the nation says it can make no promise as to when the plant will stop polluting the New York harbor.

A 12-foot surge of water swamped the Newark plant that serves some 3 million people when Sandy struck on Oct. 29 and repairs are not incomplete.

Mike DiFrancisci, executive director of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, would only say "ASAP" when asked when repairs to the sprawling facility could be made.

Until then, the main outfall will continue dumping millions of gallons of partially treated human waste a day at a point close to the Statue of Liberty across from Manhattan.

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Pathogens in partially treated waste are a health hazard and public safety threat, officials said.

Fishing, crabbing and shellfishing bans in the New Jersey waters of the harbor will remain in effect, said Larry Ragonese, a Department of Environmetal Protection spokesman.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection also issued an advisory to residents to avoid contact with the water.

While no target date has been set for repairs at the plant to be completed, DiFrancisci said he expected the facility, which has miles of underground chambers and pipes, to be redesigned to withstand the new reality of storms like Sandy.

"Underneath it would be no different than being in a battleship, making sure the doors are watertight," DiFrancisci said.