By Kiet Do

ATHERTON (KPIX 5) — One of the wealthiest towns in America has a dirty little secret.

The town of Atherton’s backup 100-kw generator, was installed right next to the administrative offices sometime back in the late 90s before present day building codes would’ve banned that from happening.

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The problem is that it’s literally right next to the Atherton police department, right outside the windows of the 911 dispatch center.

So, when the generator automatically fires up and is tested every week, it spews diesel fumes right into the police department.

To deal the with diesel fumes, Atherton public works actually disabled the auto start feature.

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But that created another problem – If there’s an outage and 911 dispatchers lose power, a worker in a town where the median home value is $6.1 million, must physically walk out to the 20 year-old generator and flip it on.

The man in charge of the generator, Public Works Superintendent Steve Tyler declined an on camera interview, but told us over the phone the generator works perfectly fine, and does not need to be replaced.

Tyler is hiring a mechanic to tune it up, and says the generator will likely get relocated if, or when a new city hall and police department ever get built.

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Until then, they’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way.