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Environmental Health

Illegal Dumping in Charlotte Creek Prompts Emergency Action


Mecklenburg County officials have discovered two separate incidents of illegal dumping in the county’s waterways in the past few weeks. The most recent one was discovered over the past weekend.

Below is the press release from the City of Charlotte:

Sunday, February 9, 2014 5:30 p.m.

On Sunday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) officially opened an Emergency Operations Center to respond to the illegal chemical dumping at Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Creek Access

As a precaution, the public is advised to refrain from human and animal contact with Sugar Creek / Little Sugar Creek (Tyvola Road downstream or south to Hwy51 or South Carolina border) until further notice.

Little Sugar Creek as it approaches the South Carolina border.

Little Sugar Creek as it approaches the South Carolina border. Image courtesy googlemaps

As a precaution we are advising people to avoid human or animal contact with Mallard Creek and the Rocky River in Cabarrus County until more testing is completed. N.C. water quality officials are aware of the situation and we also are notifying downstream authorities to share this advisory with folks along Rocky River in Cabarrus, Union and Anson counties.

Sewer Testing

Advanced testing has confirmed that the substance that entered the Sugar Creek Wastewater treatment plant does not contain PCB as originally suspected.

Tests indicate that the substance flowing into Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was ethanol, which is typical of a fuel spill.

There appears to be no connection between the Sugar Creek and the Mallard Creek incidents.

Staff of CMUD are on alert due to the Mallard Creek incident. The substance that entered Sugar Creek had similar characteristics, which led to the public notification at 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Testing continues at the Mallard Creek plant and shows continual fluctuations.

Drinking Water

The city drinking water supply was not affected by the incidents at Sugar Creek or Mallard Creek treatment plants. Testing of the water processed for drinking has no PCBs detected.

As a precaution additional tests are being taken at all wastewater treatment plants and drinking water treatment plants. Test results take several hours. City officials continue to reiterate that drinking water is safe to drink, bathe and cook with. This incident did not affect drinking water in Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Criminal Investigation

Given the seriousness of this offense, The Mayor and City Manager have authorized the creation of a joint task force to investigate this incident. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has joined forces with Local, State and Federal agencies in an effort to identify and prosecute those involved in this egregious criminal act.

Members of the task force include:
• The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD)
• The Charlotte Fire Department (CFD)
• The Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPACID)
• Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD)
• North Carolina State Highway Patrol

The extent of the offense for unlawfully dumping toxic chemicals can include both State and Federal charges. The most serious of these charges would be a felony State charge of “Dumping of toxic substance” and a felony Federal charge of “Violation of the Clean Water Act”.

The public is asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 704-334-1600 if you have information that could lead to the apprehension of the person(s) responsible for the illegal dumping.

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