Neighbors upset by chemicals in sewer system

Neighbors upset by chemicals in sewer system


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 9:01 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Multiple agencies are teaming up to catch whoever dumped 3-5 thousand gallons of toxic chemicals known as PCB's into the local sewer system.

Authorities say the contamination appears to have been contained to a the Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, but they are advising people to stay clear of the water downstream from that plant while it undergoes further testing.

It is not affecting drinking water and is not posing a public health threat, officials said.

One concern remains if someone did it once, they might do it again, or perhaps already did.

"That was kind of outrageous to me," said Tony Martin, owner of Anntony's Caribbean Cafe.

The illegal chemical dumping happened late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning behind Martin's restaurant and next to a Food Lion on W. Sugar Creek Road and WT Harris Boulevard.

"To know somebody willfully would do something like that, I think that's really criminal, you know," he said.

Police are searching for the culprits and believe they could be driving a septic truck. So do police, who are looking for the culprits. 

Investigators don't think it was done to harm anyone.  No injuries have been reported.

"It's usually somebody that's trying to make money by disposing of these chemicals the wrong way," said Rob Klass with CMPD.

PCB's in general are coolants used in transformers and motors and have been banned by the EPA since the 1970s.

They made their way through 10 miles of pipe to the Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Employees noticed sheen on the incoming water and redirected it to a holding tank.

The illegal dumping shut the plant down. It re-opened early Thursday morning after testing showed it was safe to do so.

Authorities say it appears all the contamination was contained to the treatment plant.

"To think if they could do it here, they could do it anywhere," Martin said.

"This may not be a onetime incident, this person if they've done it once may do it again," said CMUD Director Barry Gullett.

Martin's son says someone already did about a month ago in the exact same spot.

Chance Martin says upon his return from a catering run late at night he saw two men in a large red commercial truck with a plastic tank on it use a hose to dump something into the same sewer line.

"I thought it looked a bit wrong, nefarious," Chance Martin said.  "Obviously they weren't supposed to be there because when I came around back out, they left."

He did not report it to police.

The illegal chemical dump kept Food Lion closed all day.

HAZMAT and EPA crews spent the day behind the store looking into the sewer and cleaning it out.

Food Lion says it is working with authorities to catch whoever did this.

Police are making it clear Food Lion is not responsible and it was someone else dumping the PCB's into the sewer system.