Massachusetts Town’s Board of Health Tightens Regulations on Grease Interceptor Pumping

Massachusetts Town’s Board of Health Tightens Regulations on Grease Interceptor Pumping

Last fall, a sewer system backup in Mansfield MA that was caused by fats and oils clogging the line sent sewage into the road and the basements of two West Street homes.

The Board of Health recently adopted new regulations of fats, oils and grease from restaurants and food service establishments to prevent something like that happening again.

“The purpose of this regulation is to protect residents, businesses and the environment within the Town of Mansfield from blockages of the town’s sanitary sewer system caused by fats, oils and grease discharged from restaurants and food service establishments in Mansfield,” Health Agent, Amy Donovan-Palmer, explained to the Select Board at its meeting.

The regulations require an indoor or outdoor grease interceptor be in place at all facilities that generate fats, oils and grease. The interceptors must be serviced and cleaned regularly. Indoor grease traps need monthly service from a professional drain cleaner, licensed plumber or permitted hauler. Outdoor grease traps, which are larger, are to be pumped, inspected and serviced by a permitted hauler at least every three months.

Fats, oils and grease can get into the system during washing of dishes, pots, utensils, equipment and floors. Oil and grease liquefy at the high water temperatures used to wash dishes, Donovan-Palmer said. When they cool, the oil and grease solidify in sewer lines. Some detergents are used to emulsify the oil and grease from dirty dishes, keeping them in suspension until they enter the sewer system.

As part of enforcing the new regulations, the Health Department is accepting fat, oil and grease discharge applications from businesses and verifying that the establishments have pre-treatment systems.

A team will visit each of the 78 affected business in town, Donovan-Palmer said. The team will verify that there is a grease trap in place and how effective it is. So far, 29 have been inspected.

“We focused on large grease producers first,” she said.

As part of the visit, Donovan Palmer said they may determine a restaurant is eligible for a variance to have its grease interceptor pumped less often than every month, a cost savings.

“If you don’t produce large amounts of grease, you get to clean the trap less often,” she said.

Donovan-Palmer said she plans to offer fats, oils and grease maintenance class to restaurants and share educational information through emails and on the town’s website. For example, wiping the grease from dishes with a paper towel before rinsing them reducing the oils and fats going down the sink drain.

“We don’t want back up to occur in any of the sewer lines,” Select Board member Frank DelVecchio said.

“What’s happening downstream is costing us all money,” said Select Board Chairman Michael Trowbridge. “We saw what happened over the fall.”

If you’d like to have your grease interceptor pumped less often, consider installing The Drain Strainer. Invented by a former restaurant owner, The Drain Strainer is an effective and affordable commercial garbage disposal alternative.

The Drain Strainer captures food solids to keep your grease interceptor from getting clogged with food debris while still allowing your 3 compartment sinks to drain quickly.