General Wastewater Collection Systems and Treatment Information


With the introduction of Naturclean -33 we are offering the finest product available at any price. Used as directed, it works every time to eliminate grease problems from sewer lines and lift stations.

"Used as directed”, is a vital topic for discussion. In this booklet, we will try to familiarize you with what to look for and how to treat the problems you will run into in the municipal area.

Bacteria Cultures

One dictionary defines bacteria as: “typically one cell organisms which have no chlorophyll, multiply by cell division, and can be seen only with a microscope. Although some bacteria cause diseases, others are necessary for grease reduction, fermentation, hydrocarbon reduction, etc.”

We say bacteria cultures are what our Creator gave us to dispose of organic waste. The reason we are not knee deep in dinosaurs is because when something dies, the bacteria in the ground and in the corpse consumes it. If you take an apple and throw it out on the lawn, in a short time it will disintegrate. We are told the apple rotted. That’s just another way to say the bacteria are breaking it down so they can eat it.

The word biodegradable means bacteria can and will eat something. Anything that is biodegradable is known as organic. If bacteria cannot eat it, generally, it is inorganic.

Problems arise when there are just too many organics for the bacteria on site to handle. These on site bacteria are known as indigenous organisms. They can be overwhelmed by heavy loadings of organics. That’s when Naturclean -33 is the answer. Working with the indigenous organisms, they provide the right team in large enough numbers to get the job done.

Sewer System

Sewer systems carry wastewater from the source of generation to final disposal. The system includes the collection and treatment facilities.





Sewer Collection System

A sewer collection system includes everything except the sewer plant. All lines, lift stations, pump stations, manholes, and anything that sewage touches on its way to the sewer plant. Generally, the municipality is responsible for maintaining the collection system from the time the sewage leaves the lateral line and enters the main.

There are three types of sewer collection Systems:

1. Sanitary -- This system carries all wastewater generated by people: residential, commercial and industrial. It flows to the sewage treatment plant where the water is treated prior to discharge. Some industrial sites have their own full treatment plants, they do not use the municipal treatment collection system.

2. Storm -- This system carries only rain and snow water. It includes the catch basins on the side of the road. It collects the water and carries it to the discharge point, usually a stream. Presently, this water does not require treatment before discharge. This line is referred to as a storm line.

3. Combination -~ This is a combination sanitary and storm system. These systems can still be found in some old cities, but they are being phased out. This water flows to a treatment plant prior to discharge.

Sewer Mains

A sewer main is any line carrying sanitary sewage from lateral lines toward the treatment plant. There are two types of sewer mains: force and gravity.

A force main is one that is pumped under pressure. It is a line that carries sewage uphill. They generally start from a lift station that pumps the sewage to a higher level. Typically, force mains are relatively short. However, in hilly terrain, or large systems, they can be five or more miles long. You will rarely find grease problems in force mains because the force of the water running through usually clears away grease. The problem you will encounter the most in force mains is odor. We will discuss odor problems later.

A gravity main is just what its name implies. It is a main that runs downhill. Gravity mains are the most common. They make up the greatest percentage of any collection system. You will find most of your grease problems in gravity mains.

Lateral Lines

A lateral line is a small line that carries sewage to a larger pipe. For instance, the line in a kitchen sink is perhaps two inches in diameter. It runs to a four-inch line that runs to the street. That four inch line is both the “house main” while in the building, and the “house lateral” after it leaves the building since it runs out to the street and connects with a larger line owned by the municipality. These municipal sewers are usually referred to as “the city.” You will never hear a city sewer line being called a lateral. They are always mains. Generally, you will find that municipalities do not accept responsibility for cleaning lateral lines running from the city main back to a building.


An interceptor is a location in the collection system where two or more lines meet and enter a larger pipe. Interceptors come in various sizes. They can be a manhole or a large chamber.

Ejector Pits

An ejector pit is a pit inside a building that serves the same purpose as a lift station. They lift water to a higher grade. Water from the building flows into the pit where it is pumped out to the city main.

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Cleaning the Collection System With Mechanical Devices

Sewer Jets

A sewer jet is a high-pressure water system used to clean sewer lines. It may be truck or trailer mounted. It consists of a high-pressure hose of up to 500 feet mounted on a hydraulic reel and a pump. The hose is either ¾ or one inch in diameter. The trucks usually carry a 1,000 gallon tank that is filled at a fire hydrant to supply water to the pump. The trailer-mounted units may have a smaller tank, or they may hook directly to a fire hydrant. Depending on size, the pumps will generate between 1,200 and 2,000 PSI at 35 to 65 gallons per minute. Some sewer jets are larger but they all work the same way.

The hose is inserted into the sewer line through a manhole at the downstream end of the blockage or section to be cleaned. The hose has a steel head on the end shaped like a bullet. The head has small holes on the end near the hose. These holes, usually about eight in number, (known as orifices) are at various angles, ranging from 15 to 35 degrees. The water is pumped through the hose causing into be driven upstream, usually to the next manhole. When it arrives at the upstream manhole, the hydraulic reel pulls it back to the machine. All the while, the pressure is maintained. This allows the water to scrub the walls of the pipe, removing the grease. Sewer jets can be used for a variety of jobs. They are valuable pieces of equipment.

Municipal Vacuum Trucks

Unlike the trucks used to pump septic tanks, which pull a vacuum, a municipal vacuum truck is an air conveyer. It pulls a column of air through their system. Whatever is caught in the air stream is lifted to the truck. The advantage of this truck is that it can vacuum both wet and dry material such as those found in catch basins. It is a more versatile piece of equipment than a standard septic truck.

Some municipalities will run a truck that is a combination sewer jet and vacuum truck. Vacuum trucks are expensive. You will find that many municipalities do not own them.


A rodder is a piece of equipment used to clean grease from sewer lines when a sewer jet is not available. It consists of a reel of wire up to 500 feet in length. This wire, known as a rod, is at least 5/16 inch in diameter. There is also an auxiliary motor. The rodder can be either truck or trailer mounted. The end of the wire is fitted with cutters of different sizes and types, depending on the job. To operate a rodder, the cutter is inserted in the line in the same manner as the sewer jet hose. The auxiliary motor is turned on. This causes the reel of wire to rotate and unwind the rod, allowing the operator to send the rod up the line

Rodders are ineffective against grease. They cannot remove it; they can only punch holes in it. They can open a plugged line, but they cannot clean a pipe. Rodders are more effective removing hard objects such as roots.

Rodders are unforgiving pieces of equipment. Because of the torque being generated by the reel, if the rods hit a hard object, it can snap very easily. When that happens, the operator is forced to retrieve the broken rod from the line. This is not an easy task and sometimes takes quite a bit of time.

Some municipalities do not own any sewer cleaning equipment. When they need this equipment, they hire a private contractor or rent from a neighboring town

When you get an emergency blockage, the crew may have to use hand rods. These are 5/16 or 3/8 inch rods. The hand rods are made of wood, metal and fiberglass. They come in three, four, five, and sixteen foot lengths with connectors on each end. They are pushed down the blocked line by hand, one length at a time. To say this is brutal work, is putting it mildly. Not only is it very difficult to shove a couple of hundred feet of rod up a sewer line, but it must be done in the confines of a manhole, usually while you are on your knees. It generally requires at least two people. Since all this is done from the downstream side, when they finally break up the blockage, guess who gets hit with the flood of sewer water that is released! After the flood, they have to take the rod out of the line the same way they put it in, one length at a time. Only now, the sewer is running.

Keep in mind that most sewer line blockages occur at off-hours, generally around dinner time or later. With the exception of possible overtime pay, the guys down that manhole pushing the rod are not happy campers. That unhappiness is even greater in the wintertime.

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Access Points


Manholes are holes in the street. They are usually a round pit three or four feet in diameter and as deep as the sewer line. The sewer line ends at the wall of the manhole. The water continues through the manhole in a trough where it enters a line on the other side. Manholes allow access to sewer lines. Manholes are generally spaced between 250 and 600 feet apart. The average is about 500 feet, but there is no hard and fast rule.

There are also square manholes, but they are usually interceptors, and not very common.

Manhole covers are usually round but occasionally square. Square lids should always be lifted with great care and replaced even more carefully. If not handled properly, these lids can easily get turned a little and fall into the pit.

Round lids are easier to handle because they rarely fall into the hole, and they are generally lighter than square lids. The only time they will go into the hole is if one of the notches found on each side of the lid is damaged. That is why when replacing a lid, always have the notches in your line of sight. Retrieving one of these lids from the hole is no easy task

There are two main reasons for manholes. One is to provide access to clean the sewer line,

The other is to provide a place to handle overflow when the pipe is surcharged or blocked. The manhole will fill with water and keep it in the system until normal flows can be restored. The best way to find a street blockage is to follow the trail of full manholes downstream until you find a dry one. That tells you the blockage is between the last full manhole and the dry one.

Clean Outs

Where a manhole is not required, such as in a shopping mall parking lot or corridor, you will find a four inch round plate standing over the sewer line. Under this plate you will find a second cap. When you lift this cap, you will find a vertical pipe that leads to the sewer line. This vertical pipe has a bend in it at the bottom called a sweep. The sweep is pointed downstream. This ensures that anything such as a snake inserted in the pipe will go down. The clean out is just what its name implies, a place to get access to the pipe so you can clean it.


The Problem

Grease buildup in sewer lines is an enormous problem for municipalities. It is safe to say that at least 80% of their trouble and routine maintenance sewer line cleaning is the result of grease. Another 10-12 percent of their efforts will be used combating tree roots. The rest will be "hard object" problems. Hard objects can be rocks, shopping carts, buckets, or just about anything that will fit into a sewer line or manhole.

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Methods For Cleaning Grease

From Sewer Lines and Lift Stations

There are four generally accepted ways to clean sewer systems:

1. Mechanical devices -- These devices, such as sewer jets and rodders, are expensive and the results are short-lived (described above).

2. Solvents -- Solvents only reduce the size of the grease. Solvents do not destroy grease; they simply move it along the system. At some point, it will have to be dealt with. Solvents can be very hazardous to both people and the environment. Always read the labels carefully.

3. Enzymes-- an environmentally safe chemical. Like solvents, they also break big grease into little grease and pass it along the system. Enzymes have a narrow range of effectiveness. They are quickly diluted and have no long lasting benefits.

These three methods only treat the symptoms. In addition, since solvents and enzymes are merely chemicals, you must use the same dose rate during the life of the program. The Solvents or Enzymes are quickly washed away leaving the effective time very short

If you want long lasting results, you must treat the problem.

4. Bacteria cultures—Bacteria cultures are the only method that cures the problem. They are living organisms that continually adapt and grow in the system. They consume the grease; they do not move it from one place to another.

When placed in the sewer, bacteria build a biological slime on the pipe wall. The slime is the same thing you get on the media of a trickling filter in a sewer treatment plant. You can also compare it to the slime you find on a stone picked up in a creek. The bacteria will make the pipe wall too slippery for grease to get a hold. They eat the grease they come in contact with. In addition, they will split in two about every 20 minutes. That is why your customer can reduce his dose levels after the inoculation phase. He is literally growing bugs in his sewer. The maintenance dose is used to keep his colony healthy.

Many strains of bacteria will not eat sewer grease under any circumstances. They simply die off. The only effective formula is one that will eat sewer grease after all other food is gone. This requires a carefully selected formula. Naturclean -33 includes bacteria strains that will eat sewer grease. When the cultures are first developed in the laboratory and later grown during production, they are fed grease. Due to this process, the bacteria will look for grease when they wake up in the collection system.

Carefully selected means exactly that. Not every bacterium will consume sewer grease. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as bacteria that prefer to eat sewer grease. Most bacteria would rather eat carbohydrates (sugars, starches, and cellulose) first. Next they will choose protein. After all that is gone, they will work on the fats and greases starting with the ones that are easiest to break down. Rest assured, sewer grease is on the bottom of the list.

For instance, almost any enzyme or simple bacteria product will work in a restaurant line because the waste stream usually consists of a predictable, high quality grease. Meanwhile, a municipal sewer carries everything known to man. At any given moment, you will find many varieties of chemicals, soap, petroleum products, cellulose, and numerous other compounds.

In addition, the pH of the water can swing back and forth without notice. On top of this, the stream can change characteristics without warning when someone dumps something down the line. This is especially prevalent around food processing or plating plants.

If you want to clean a municipal sewer, you better use the big guns. Half measures and bad products simply will not get it done.

To the best of our knowledge, Naturclean -33 contains more strains of specific bacteria (58) than any other formula available. It is necessary to have this formula because of the complexity of municipal sewer systems. Also note that our plate count is extremely high—the highest count we’ve ever seen.

This brings us to a competitive situation you must be aware of. There are many bad guys in our business. They are the people who promise anything to get an order. They tout their product as the best. One of the things they use to confuse the customer is plate count. They will claim to have enormous numbers of bacteria in their product and sometimes they do. However, not all plate count claims are valid. Unless the count can be verified in a certified testing laboratory, using accepted procedures, the claim should be discounted.

While plate counts are important, they are not what determines the best product. Always remember that we are not playing a quantity game; we are playing a QUALITY game. If you could clean sewers solely with a vast number of bacteria, no sewer would need you. If you take a plate count of almost any sewer line, you will find it loaded with bacteria. The plate count may even be higher than our formula. Your customer has plenty of bacteria in his sewer lines. He does not need more bugs, he needs a whole new cast of characters; one that will handle the grease.

In order to clean a sewer you must put the right cast of characters on the scene at the right time. If a football coach wants to win a game, it’s better if he picks the team instead of taking the first eleven people who show up on game day.

Just as the coach needs people with different skills to man his team, we need many strains of bacteria to win the war with grease. On a football field, it’s called teamwork. In a collection system, it’s called synergism.

Synergism is simply a group of bacteria working together to get the job done. For instance, a molecule of grease may consist of several compounds. One strain of bacteria cannot break it down. However, when the right team of bacteria goes to work, each consuming a different substrate (food), the compound is quickly consumed. If your customer understands this concept, you should get the order. If he does not, you do not deserve the order. QUALITY separates you from everyone else. Used as directed, Naturclean -33 will work every time.

Not only do you have the best product, but also the water-soluble bag eliminates handling and presoaking. Most other products require the customer to mix them in water before adding them to the sewer. Some even have to be presoaked for up to four hours. Naturclean -33 is simply dropped in the system where the bag will disintegrate.

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Cleaning Sewer Lines Using Naturclean-33

Cleaning sewer lines with Naturclean -33 is done from the downstream end. This allows the grease being knocked off the walls to flow down the line. If cleaning is started at the top of the line, there is a good chance a blockage could result if the grease cannot get out.

It is important to realize that although it does not happen very often, you may experience a backup in the first two or three weeks after you begin the program. The reason for this is that as the bacteria attaches to the pipe (creating a bio-film) and the bacteria. It begins eating the outside of the grease and behind it (between the pipe and grease). This loosens the grease on the pipe and it falls away off the walls of the pipe; it will want to flow down the line. If it cannot do this, it may cause a blockage.

As long as you're aware of this, it will be to your advantage if the backup occurs. First, it will not come as a surprise to you.. Second, it will prove that Naturclean - 33 is working. Some of our best customers over the years have been people who have experienced backups early in the program.

It is also important you to know that if you do get a backup it will be the last one you will ever have in that section of line as long as you stay on the program. These backups will not occur very often. Your chances of getting a blockage are less than 20 percent.


Will the bacteria can handle odors in sewer lines, lift stations, or ejector pits. The answer is always "MAYBE."

Very often the bacteria will improve or even eliminate an odor problem. There are bacteria in Naturclean -33 strictly for odor control. At times they work very well. There are other times when the bacteria will have no effect at all. Sewer system odors occur for many reasons such as flow, design, infiltrate and loading problems, just to name a few.

Other Concerns

Other times the bacteria may need help is when the pH is below 5.5 or above 9.5 and there is a BOD or COD problem. In addition, most regular bacteria will not work below 55 or above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. NatureClean has specific blends of bacteria for these conditions.

Pharmaceuticals are also a new and relevant problem. NatureClean can site specifc blend to eliminate these problems.

When these questions arise, you may need engineering or mechanical services. Call the office.








        Before NaturClean-33                                            After NaturClean-33


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Identifying the Problem

It is a rare occasion when you have to treat more than 1,500 feet of line in order to eliminate any specific problem. Always bear in mind that our job is to give the customer a trouble free line for the lowest possible cost. Remember, no one is drinking the water in this line or taking a bath; it only has to run trouble free.

Here are some of the questions we ask to determine the necessary doses:

1. What is the diameter of the line? The line should be at least six inches, but eight inches or larger is more common. Most of the four-inch lines will be laterals that come from buildings to the main sewer.

2. How long is that portion of line that plugs up because of grease?

3. How many manholes are involved?

4. How many restaurants are on the line?

Typically, you will find the trouble in the line will manifest itself somewhere within 300 to 500 feet of a restaurant. This is because grease emulsifies at 140 degrees. Since a dishwasher’s rinse water is usually 180 degrees; it is common for the grease to go past the grease trap and directly to the city main. As the water cools, the grease congeals and plugs the line. Also, many restaurant owners know if they run enough hot water in the line, the grease will not be a problem for them. They just give it to the city and forget it.

The recommended way to treat a line such as this is to go to the manhole upstream from the restaurant and start the bug program measurement from there. If the restaurant line comes out directly into a manhole, it is still best to go upstream. However, in this case, start the measurement from the manhole at the restaurant. Usually, a 1,000 foot section treatment will be sufficient to cure the problem.

If there are no restaurants on the line, look for apartment complexes, schools, catering kitchens, and factories that process food, golf courses or any other place where people would be cooking. Some businesses such as furniture strippers, plating plants, or photo developers may discharge chemicals that kill bacteria.

Another problem area can be where the line has sagged because the ground under it has washed out. Or it could be a siphon that runs under a stream or road. These lines are especially annoying because they are difficult to clean. When heavy objects such as stones fall into the bottom they are hard to get out. This debris tends to trap large amounts of grease.

If it is a sagged line, the diameter of the pipe is reduced by the amount of the sag. For instance, an eight inch line with a four inch sag is effectively reduced to a 4 inch line. It is important that the line be as clean as possible because any grease buildup will only reduce it more -- with predictable results.


These lines are especially annoying because they are difficult to clean. When heavy objects such as stones fall into the bottom they are hard to get out. This debris tends to trap large amounts of grease.


The recommended way to treat a line such as this is to go to the manhole upstream from the restaurant and start the bug program measurement from there. If the restaurant line comes out directly into a manhole, it is still best to go upstream. However, in this case, start the measurement from the manhole at the restaurant. Usually, a 1,000 foot section treatment will be sufficient to cure the problem.


If there are no restaurants on the line, look for apartment complexes, schools, catering kitchens, factories that process food, golf courses or any other place where people would be cooking. Some businesses such as furniture strippers, plating plants, or photo developers may discharge chemicals that kill bacteria causing grease to build up.


Since a good consistent bacteria program will eliminate the grease, you can achieve great results and become a real hero to the guys who have to clean this line.

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Application of Bacteria

The line to be treated should be cleaned in 500 foot sections. Starting at the downstream section, the line is treated for four days. Then the next 500 foot section upstream is treated in the same manner until the entire line has received its initial dose (refer to your dosing chart for specific amounts). If you are treating more than 1,000 feet, it will be necessary to start the maintenance dose in the first 1,000 foot section while inoculating the upstream section. If you have any questions on dosing or procedures, contact the office before proceeding.

After the initial doses have been completed, maintenance doses begin. Your dosing chart shows the amount required for each 1,000 feet of line. You may treat up to one mile of line from one spot. Simply take the maintenance dose and multiply by 5.2.

We recommend that after the maintenance dose is begun, the customer inspect at least four or five manholes in the sewer line every two to three weeks to monitor for grease buildup. If after six months or so, if they find there is no grease buildup, they should be able to cut their maintenance dose by as much 25 to 50 percent.

Dosage Calculator

Starting Up A New Sewer Line

Cost of the Program

It has been our experience that Naturclean -33 will not only be the best product to get the job done, but also, the least expensive way to. For instance, the maintenance dose for 1,000 feet of eight-inch sewer line is less than two cents per foot per week.

You can compute your cost right off the dosing charts. This comes in handy when you run into someone who is using degreasers or enzymes. Be sure to compare for actual doses. Competitive products may be less expensive to buy but will cost more to use. Do not forget to compare labor costs.

Naturclean -33 is very powerful and a weekly dose is sufficient. However, for best results, we recommend the weekly dose be divided in half and be put in the line twice a week. Mondays and Fridays are generally good days because restaurants are busiest on weekends and a lot of grease is generated. This is not a hard and fast rule. You may choose to pick other days. This is perfectly all right. However, we have found that it is important to be consistent. Whichever days you pick, try to stay with them. If the program becomes inconsistent, people tend to forget it.

Once you get your initial doses placed in your system, you have great latitude with this product. Strive for a consistent program without inconvenience to the field personnel. Without their support, the program will fail. Conversely, field personnel are usually our biggest fans once the program is in place. They are the guys that do not have to climb down those stinking, greasy, ugly manholes or lift stations anymore to clean them.

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Lift Stations and Pump Stations

Your stations will be more trouble free. The floats will not hang up. The pumps will run more efficiently and require less service. You could even notice a significant drop in your electric usage because your pumps may be turning on less often.

When you have to work in a lift/pump station (for example, when changing a pump) all you have to do is hose it down. The grease will fall right off. Gone forever are the days when the grease was so hard and thick that he had to take a chisel to it.

Whether you are treating lift/pump stations or sewer lines, it is usually (but not always as many times we find that applying bacteria to both the top of a wet well and the outside lines works better) best to place the bacteria at least one or two manholes upstream. Always pick a spot with safety in mind. If there is heavy traffic, it may be possible to go into an adjacent building and flush the bag down a toilet. The danger with this method is that if something happens to the fellow’s plumbing, he may blame your customer. If you use this method, be sure to acquaint him with the fact that the bacteria cannot possibly hinder his system and in fact will help to clean his lines and keep them clean .

Remember that grease problems can manifest themselves anywhere in the system. For example, the lift/pump stations invariably have large amounts of grease. But they do not generate any grease; they are simply the victims. They capture the grease on its way down the line and can only pump a small amount out.

Treating the Lift/Pump Station

When treating a lift/pump station directly, every gallon of water coming through must be treated. However, a little detective work may save a lot of money.

Instead of treating the entire flow in a lift/pump station, it may be possible to identify the line in the system that is generating the most grease. It will be the one that services one or more restaurants, apartment complexes, a factory that cooks food or other places that generate extraordinary amounts of grease.

There are many instances in large pump stations that it is advisable to just treat the wet well. We find that if we do not pump the wet well all the way down but leave about a 3 to 4 foot “head”, and we treat the wet well from the top, we have better results.











     Before NaturClean-33                                            After NaturClean-33


Some Tips for Testing

Try to get a lift station that has a small enough flow that you can do it with no more than two pails of product. If the you pick a big station, follow previous directions and try to identify the grease generator line and treat it.

If you are doing a lift station, it should be cleaned prior to starting the program. If this isn’t possible, be sure to take careful measurements and pictures on Day One.

When dealing with a thick grease mat in a lift/pump station, be sure that holes are punched in the mat to expose water. The reason for this is the bacteria in the water are inhaling oxygen and exhaling either hydrogen sulfide or carbon dioxide. This gas, if trapped, will literally lift the grease mat off the surface of the water. Since most of the biological activity occurs at the interface between the water and grease, if the mat is lifted, activity will slow to almost nothing. KEEP THE HOLES OPEN.

The sewer line you want is “The Friday Night Special”. This is the line that is running down Main Street and picks up two or three restaurants. It’s an eight inch line loaded with grease, so it is really a three or four inch line. On Friday night, the whole world shows up at 6 p.m. to have dinner. All that water in that greased up line spells BACKUP. You could almost set your clock by the thing. Every town has one. That line backs up on schedule. If you keep that line running for a couple of months, you have a winner (do not forget: there may be more backups during the test).

Safety Procedures

Sewer lines and lift stations can be dangerous places. There are two gases associated with sewers that in high concentrations are deadly. They are METHANE and HYDROGEN SULFIDE.

Never enter a manhole or lift station unless it has been checked for gas.

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