Neighbors worry about health risks from Golden Corral sewage

LARGO, Fla. -  A well-known restaurant remains closed after an inspector discovered sewage had been leaking into a nearby canal.

The Golden Corral in Largo off Ulmerton Road closed on Jan. 11 because kitchen grease, wastewater and "untreated sanitary sewer discharge" was leaking into the Seminole Bypass Canal. A code enforcement inspector issued a notice of violation. The inspector stated finding sewage leaking under the restaurant from broken pipes as well. The city received a complaint about a possible issue at the Golden Corral on Jan. 4.

ABC Action News received a statement from Sun Steaks, LLC, a Golden Corral franchisee. The statement read:

"The repair work is continuing at our Largo, FL location on 10050 Ulmerton Road. We proactively closed the restaurant immediately after discovering what initially appeared to be a broken pipe. We subsequently found out that the issue was much larger than we had originally anticipated and we have had to bring in additional contractors to do the repair work which took more time. The plumbing repair is now complete; however, we brought in a licensed protocol assessor to review the situation. The assessor determined that a licensed and certified environmental company had to complete the remaining work, which is just now getting underway. We are doing all we can to re-open the restaurant as soon as possible, but, at this point, we are not able to provide a definitive date. We are working closely with local authorities to address the issue and the matter properly resolved. The well-being of our guests is our first priority".

ABC Action News confirmed the company hired an environmental contractor to handle their other cleanup.

"We're concerned about it as anybody would be if this happened in your neighborhood. I know that they're addressing it but like I said we'(d) just like to know why did it take so long to find it and why is it taking so long to cure it and what's the plan in the future to maintain it in a proper fashion," Derm Doyle said.

Doyle lives at the Four Seasons Estates, which is next to the Golden Corral. He said neighbors are frustrated especially because they noticed issues a few years ago.

"In Jan. 2015 we complained to Pinellas County that there were strong odors from the Golden Corral restaurant that seemed to be a sewer smell," Doyle said.

Doyle said they are concerned about the health of everyone in the neighborhood.

"I hope it's fixed and we don't have to put up with that smell anymore," Jim Cameron said.

Cameron lives in the neighborhood too and he is surprised the restaurant has not reopened by now.

"A lot of people said the same thing but I don't know what the prognoses is not if they're down for a while or maybe you know more than I do," Cameron said.

ABC Action News learned county officials tested the canal water for E. coli and fecal coliform and the level of E. coli was within 'normal range' and met water quality criteria.

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