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City of Charlotte Interdepartmental Update on Illegal Chemical Dumping
 
 
On Thursday, February 6, 2014, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) wastewater treatment staff noticed an unusual substance flowing into the Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on US 29 North. The flow was contained in a holding tank and in the plant treatment process until it was determined that it was safe to return the plant back to service. The Mallard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant continues to operate in emergency mode.
 
The origination of the dumping site was traced back to a grease trap containment location behind the Food Lion grocery store located in the 6400 block of W. Sugar Creek Road. Local officials held press briefings throughout the day to share updates concerning the illegal activity and condition of the City’s sewer system. 
 
Press Briefings
Friday, February 7, 6:30 a.m.: http://bit.ly/1njNZy4
Friday, February 7, 5 p.m.: http://bit.ly/1aHvtzy
 
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.
 
Sewer Conditions and Ongoing Testing
As a precaution, officials are advising the community to avoid human or animal contact with Mallard Creek and the Rocky River in Cabarrus County. Field testing is ongoing as CMUD and independent labs continue to analyze the amounts of Trichlorobenzene and Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) introduced into the sewer system. 
 
Since the illegal dumping of toxic materials, trichlorobenzene and PCB levels have fluctuated. The charts below detail test results obtained on Thursday, February 6 and Friday, February 7. Levels will continue to fluctuate until the clean-up process is complete.
 
PCB
(Discharge Target is less than 3 Parts Per Billion (PPB))*
Time (Friday, February 7)
Effluent Levels (PPB)
(Treated wastewater discharged into Mallard Creek)
5:20 a.m.
4.8
6:00 a.m.
1.44
8:00 a.m.
1.7
9:58 a.m.
5.8
12:52 p.m.
3.1
2:51 p.m.
3.9
4:40 p.m.
4.1
6:29 p.m.
3.9
8:55 p.m.
4.5
 
 
Trichlorobenzene
(Target Concentration in Stream is less than 61 Parts Per Billion)*
Time (Friday, February 7)
Effluent Levels (PPB)
(Treated wastewater discharged into Mallard Creek)
6 a.m.
12
8 a.m.
13
10 a.m.
64
12:52 p.m.
160
2:51 p.m.
190
4:40 p.m.
200
6:29 p.m.
160
8:55 p.m.
92
 
Trichlorobenzene
Time
Influent Levels (PPB)
(Raw wastewater entering plant)
Thursday, February 6 1:30 p.m.
10,000
8:25 p.m.
4,200
9:25 p.m.
2,100
10:25 p.m.
1,700
11:25 p.m.
1,400
Friday , February 7 12:35 a.m.
810
1: 30 a.m.
500
2:25 a.m.
370
3:32 a.m.
260
8:03 a.m.
140
8:47 a.m.
190
1:16 p.m.
100
6:37 p.m.
47
                                               
 
CMUD is working diligently to properly dispose of toxic materials that entered the plant. Yesterday afternoon, it was discovered that approximately 1,695 gallons of water leaked from a foundation drain on the plant site into Mallard Creek. Strictly as a precaution this spill area is being considered as if it had been contaminated. The remaining spill area was contained. United States Environmental Protection Agency, North Carolina water quality officials, and Mecklenburg County water quality officials have been on site and are supporting cleanup and mitigation activities.
 
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.
 
The image below depicts the vehicle type that was likely used to illegally dump chemicals into the sewer system. The pictured vehicle is typically used to siphon and extract liquid waste. CMPD does not have a definite description of the actual vehicle used in the criminal activity at this time.