WJTV News Channel 12 - Raw sewage dumped into local neighborhood by plumbing company

Raw sewage dumped into local neighborhood by plumbing company

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A local office of a national plumbing company is the focus of an open investigation.

According to the City of Johnson City, a couple of Roto-Rooter employees were caught dumping sewage from a truck onto a vacant lot off Embreeville road.

Johnson City police got a call Tuesday afternoon from a homeowner who claimed he saw the Roto-Rooter employees dumping sewage from their truck onto a vacant lot near Cherokee Creek.

A police report says a nearby homeowner tried to confront two men, but they sped off.

As police were investigating, the report says the men came back. Police questioned the two men where they were going for service. The men said they had gotten lost and were just coming back from dumping their waste at the Austin Springs facility at 10:00 am. Neither of the men could account for the 3 hour gap during their travel, according to the report. The officer checked the tank and saw it was 3/4 of the way full and that's when they were cited for criminal littering.

"I call it a health hazard. It always stunk. Bugs increased," said Theresa Carnes, who lives close to the dump site, "it smells awful! It smells like a backed up septic tank."

The Carnes' say instead of going down the drain, men driving Roto-Rooter trucks dumped sewage onto the ground, only a few hundred feet from their front porch.

"It's worse now knowing what they are doing considering we have 4 grand kids. They don't need to be out smelling it and around it," said Theresa.

"Raw sewage appears to have been pumped out near the creek," said Andrew Best, Johnson City's Storm water Manager, "we will be issuing Roto-Rooter a notice of violation and our maximum fine is $5,000 and that's what we plan to ahead."

Best says the two Roto-Rooter employees were probably trying to save money by dumping sewage in the lot instead of at a waste facility.

"If someone accidentally spills it's one thing but when you do it on purpose to save a little bit of money it is a big violation," said Best

Johnson City officials say they aren't sure how long this site has been used for dumping but neighbors say by the size of the dump itself and the smell, it has to be at least a couple of weeks.

The owner of the local franchise that's under investigation is Robert Combs.

By phone he told News Channel 11 he had no clue his employees were dumping the sewage at this lot.

During the conversation, Combs was apologetic and sounded concerned.

He said he'd contact Johnson City about clean up                 

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation two days ago.

A spokesperson says there's an on-going investigation. That a state notice of violation was issued yesterday against the owner and more actions may come later.

 


 

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