Carpet cleaners caught dumping chemicals

Carpet cleaning employees were caught dumping gallons of chemicals out of their truck Wednesday morning, and now their employer may face penalties.

According to Hamilton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Janice Atkinson, a deputy patrolling Rocky Ledge Road spotted a foaming liquid flowing toward Falling Water Creek in Hixson.

While investigating, deputies confirmed that Servpro of North Chattanooga workers had completed a carpet cleaning job on Rocky Ledge Road and illegally were draining the truck, Ms. Atkinson said.

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation specialists were notified and responded to the scene.

Tisha Calabrese-Benton, a spokeswoman for the agency, said she wasn't able to speculate on the severity of the spill, but she said it constituted an "illicit discharge."

Ms. Calabrese-Benton said she didn't know if chemicals leaked into Falling Water Creek.

Dennis Allen, a production manager for Servpro locally, said a sewer line exists behind the company for the sole purpose of cleaner disposal, but workers sometimes pour used carpet cleaner chemicals into car wash drains and domestic toilets, which he said is within environmental regulations.

Attempts Wednesday evening to reach the Environmental Protection Agency were unsuccessful.

Mr. Allen said he wasn't sure how often workers pull off the side of the road to dump liquid waste.

"If you're 30 miles away, it can be kind of hard to drive back to the shop and do it," he said.

The company, at 3009 Wood Ave., is 12 miles from where the dumping took place Tuesday.

The employees will be given a warning for this particular incident, but a second infraction could get them fired from Servpro, Mr. Allen said.

The truck's tank holds up to 55 gallons of fluid, he said.

"They would have never gotten it all out if they were stopped in the middle," he said. "I can't be out with my guys all the time."