By TRAVIS HANDY
The owners of Quick Clean car wash on Newbern Road have reported one of their drains was used to illegally dispose of a “combustible or flammable liquid” on Friday, Nov. 30. It is suspected that an individual used the carwash to clean out a metal container they intended to recycle or salvage for money.
According to Pulaski Fire Chief Bill Webb, a call came in at 2:18 p.m. Nov. 30 from 825 Newbern Road with a complaint about fumes in a residence. The fire department’s report said crews traced the odor back to the car wash and determined that heating fuel had been disposed of in one of the car wash’s bay drains.
Crews were on the scene for about five hours providing monitoring of the home where the initial complaint originated and nearby sewer manholes. The car wash was barricaded and a contractor was called in to clean up the spill.
Rhelda McCreary, who co-owns the car wash with her husband Kenneth, said she was shocked and upset by the incident.
“It made me angry to think that you’ve been offering a service to people and then they disrespect your business to do something like that,” said McCreary. “I’ve been closed for (almost) a week and losing that income, plus having to pay someone to come in and correct the problem.”
McCreary said her business is stuck with the cleanup bill of $750 and she expects she has lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 during the closure.
McCreary said there are no signs or warnings posted in the car wash bays pertaining to the illegality of dumping hazardous materials in drains, but they plan to put up signs and install security cameras to prevent this from happening in the future. The goal is also to aid law enforcement in catching anyone responsible for committing a similar offense in the future.
Chief Webb commented Wednesday about the dangers posed to residents when an incident like this occurs.
“There are two hazards there, there’s the personal hazard from the fumes themselves and then there’s the possibility of the right mixture of combustible gases building up in a structure, particularly,” said Webb.
Webb said any time there is an unusual odor or anything that hasn’t been present before, residents should inform the fire department and let them investigate the situation to ensure safety.
To anyone responsible for dumping oil or other hazardous materials into drains, Webb said “they should not be doing that because it is illegal.” He said the fire prevention code states offenders could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor that includes up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, plus financial responsibility for the cleanup.
Simon and Associates, of Blacksburg, were contracted to do the cleanup. According to McCreary the crew had finished cleaning up the spill by mid-afternoon Wednesday. McCreary indicated she is ready to move on from the incident.
“Over the years, we’ve had so many loyal customers and we really appreciate their business,” said McCreary. “We look forward to continuing to offer them service.”