Was it a biblical plague or just a polluting meatpacking plant that caused a creek feeding the Trinity River to run red late last year? Authorities are inclined to believe the latter.
Columbia Packing Co., a 99-year-old meatpacking plant in Oak Cliff, allegedly used a secret sewer line to flood Cedar Creek with enough swine blood to turn it red. (This means Houston, which famously drinks much of Dallas’ wastewater, is now ingesting a little pig blood, too.)
The Dallas Morning News‘ Christina Rosales and Randy Lee Loftis used court documents to unravel how the month-long investigation against the meat packing plant proceeded.
A hobbyist with a model airplane who had snapped aerial photos of the red runoff tipped off authorities to the pollution, spurring the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, the EPA, Dallas Water Utilities, and Dallas County Health and Human Services to join together to investigate, Rosales and Loftis reported.
Scientists with the Texas Parks and Willdlife Department scooped up some samples of the red water, which tested positive for “swine protein and toxic chemicals” used in pig processing.
The plant had purchased 242,700 gallons of water from the city, but discharged more than 925,000 gallons of “fluid” into the creek, Rosales and Loftis reported, while cautioning that the plant also used well water.
If you want to anger the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News, just dump thousands of gallons of pig blood into a local body of water:
The fact that a Dallas slaughterhouse probably dumped enough pigs’ blood and other toxic biohazard refuse to turn a Trinity River tributary bright red should shake the city out of any lethargy regarding environmental oversight.
This “sickening, disgusting situation,” the editorial board wrote, was only made worse by the fact it was uncovered not by an environmental agency, but by a hobbyist with a model airplane.
“The concern has been here for a number of years,” City Council member Dwaine Caraway told WFAA. “The little squealing pigs and the not knowing exactly how they are disposing […] is a grave concern.”
The Dallas Observer‘s Jim Schutze ate some crow (better than drank some blood) about the story on Monday. Schutze says Caraway tipped him off to the slaughterhouse’s abuses two years ago, but he didn’t believe the council member.