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Toxic Chemicals Illegally Dumped Into Charlotte Sewer

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities

Charlotte police are trying to identify who pumped toxic chemicals into a city sewer line.  The incident caused authorities to shut down the Mallard Creek water treatment plant for some 17 hours.

Plant workers were tipped off to the chemicals around noon Thursday when they noticed a sheen on the water in a retaining pond.  They soon found two toxic chemicals.  The first, trichlorobenzene, which is used in herbicides and as an industrial coolant and lubricant.  The second, PCBs, which Congress banned  in 1979 but can still be found in older electrical equipment such as transformers.

At an early morning news conference today, Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said the spill has not affected the city’s water supply.

City officials believe the chemicals were pumped into a sewer line near West Sugar Creek road and Harris Boulevard.  And they believe the chemicals were carried to the site by a septic truck. 

Charlotte Detective Rob Klass stressed there are no indications the act was an attempt to harm others.  But rather an attempt to avoid paying the high fees associated with legally disposing of the toxic liquids.   

He said investigators are checking surveillance cameras in the area. He encourages the public to call Crime Stoppers with any information.


Tom Bullock decided to trade the khaki clad masses and traffic of Washington DC for Charlotte in 2014. Before joining WFAE, Tom spent 15 years working for NPR. Over that time he served as everything from an intern to senior producer of NPR’s Election Unit. Tom also spent five years as the senior producer of NPR’s Foreign Desk where he produced and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon among others. Tom is looking forward to finally convincing his young daughter, Charlotte, that her new hometown was not, in fact, named after her.