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An estimated 4 million gallons of water that leaked from a Niagara Falls Boulevard industrial plant may cost the plant about $3,000 -- maybe more, maybe less -- according to City Controller Patricia C. Lenhart.

A plumber for Great Lakes Carbon Co. at 6200 Niagara Falls Boulevard discovered the leak about 10 a.m. Friday, eight hours after an operator at the city water pumping station noticed an unusual increase in the volume of water being pumped into the mains.

Volume at the pumping station returned to normal after the leak was isolated.

"It probably was a broken pipe. The plant was built in 1939, and we have that kind of problem from time to time," said Ernest P. Oliverio Jr., plant manager for Great Lakes Carbon.

Oliverio was not at the plant on Friday, but he said he doubted the leak interfered seriously with work there.

Some of the water seeped into an adjacent field near the CECOS International disposal complex at Niagara Falls Boulevard and 56th Street.

The leak, in a relatively isolated industrial area, affected no one else, according to the city water division.

After the increased volume was noticed at the pumping station, police were asked to look for any broken mains along city streets, and various plants were contacted to determine whether they were drawing any unusually large amount of water.

Through those efforts, the leak eventually was traced to the Great Lakes Carbon plant.

The city normally pumps about 25 million gallons of water into its mains on a typical weekday.

Gerry Grose, the city's chief of water purification maintenance, said Great Lakes Carbon would be charged for the spilled water at its regular rate.

Mrs. Lenhart, said industrial water rates are on a sliding scale, based on use in a three-month period.

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