Property Owner: "I think it's coming from the dump"
HARRISON, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) - It's not uncommon for Eddie Pruitt's Birchwood Pike yard to flood, but last week's downpour left more than puddles.
"I didn't know what in the world it was. I thought it was oil," he said, "but it smells like a hog's pin."
A thick black substance cakes the bank.
Trash floats in the now stagnant stream.
"It's a lot of paper, bottles, old wood and stuff," he described.
"It looks bad to me," added Chester Bankston, Hamilton County Commissioner. "I wouldn't want it in my backyard."
Pruitt called Bankston for help.
When Bankston couldn't get answers, he called Channel 3.
Bankston, who says he's received similar complaints from other constituents, has a theory about where the mess came from.
"I think it's coming out of the dump," he said, pointing in the direction of the Birchwood Landfill, managed by the City of Chattanooga. "It's up the stream from it, and this ditch comes from the dump."
State officials disagree.
Monday morning representatives of Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation took samples.
Spokesperson Meg Lockhart shared the findings with Channel 3 over the phone.
"Looks to be some sort of algae," she explained. "It is not chemical in nature, and not typical of something that would be from a landfill."
Landfill Manager John Lyons is confident the fault does not lie with the landfill, and is calling on storm water experts to investigate.
"I've contacted our storm water people, they're coming on sight," he said. "They were out here this afternoon. They're coming on site tomorrow to walk the entire stream."
Pruitt and Bankston say they're more concerned with finding the source, than assigning blame.
"We want to get to the bottom of it, to see what this is, where it came from, and whose responsibility it is to get it cleaned up," said Bankston.
"I just want it stopped, if there's any way possible," added Pruitt.
TDEC says the substance is algae-like, but can't pinpoint where it came from. That will be up to local agencies.
City workers plan to walk the creek Tuesday, in hopes for finding the source.