Richmond man catches company dumping waste water

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A concerned citizen's home video has prompted a state investigation into illegal dumping in Richmond.

The video, captured on a cell phone camera, shows a local carpet cleaning business disposing its wastewater down a city storm drain in the Stratford Hills neighborhood.

"We've got kids that go through there. It really made me mad," said Theiacesene Covington.

He couldn't believe what he was seeing in his neighborhood.

"As I'm getting closer I'm noticing that the hose is laying on the grate and there was just stuff coming out of it. "

Rachel DePompa: "I can smell it."

Theiacesene: "Yeah, you can smell it."

He grabbed his cell phone and took video. It is shaky, because he was walking as he shot it, but when slowed down, you can clearly see a van, marked as Advanced Flooring Technologies of Virginia.

This is a hose coming from the truck to a storm drain.

"This isn't a dump. We have dumps in the city of Richmond," Covington said.

The drain empties directly into the woods. He digs into the ground to show us, "I'm about a half an inch to an inch down and chemicals are still coming up."

The soil started turning orange and sludgy. He could smell chemicals and see a sheen on the water.

"When it rains it goes down the stream through the entire neighborhood and into a natural swimming hole. I wouldn't want this in anybody's neighborhood."

Rachel: "He's upset."

Lisa Williams: "Yeah, I would be upset."

We contacted the company named on the truck. Advanced Flooring Technologies of Virginia installs carpet and flooring. It also runs a small carpet cleaning business. We took the video to its Goochland headquarters.

"It shouldn't have happened. There's no excuse for why the incident happened." Manager Lisa Williams called it disturbing. She said it was an employee, who knew better and was acting against company policy "We are concerned about the environment. We are concerned about doing things the right way."

Williams said the chemicals are solvents and standard cleaners that are bio-degradable. She apologized and says she's not upset Covington shot the video. In fact, she would have done the same.

"We're going to take every step possible to correct the situation and make sure that this doesn't happen again."

The city's Department of Public Works launched an investigation. They took soil and water samples and forwarded their report to the state Department of Environmental Quality's criminal division.

"We really want folks to know that you can not, you should not, use storm drains to dump anything other than storm water," said Angela Fountain, a spokesperson for Richmond's Department of Public Utilities.

The DEQ is handling the investigation. Advanced Flooring Technologies says it plans to discipline the employee responsible and is well aware, it could face charges from the state and hefty fines.

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