Mountain Dew spill in Howell prompts environmetal concerns, creates 'huge foaming event'

An incident at a Michigan Pepsi bottling plant sparked environmental concerns after more than 70,000 gallons of Mountain Dew syrup spilled into a floor drain and into the plant’s internal sewer system when a tank ruptured last month. (iStock)

More than 7,000 gallons of Mountain Dew syrup spilled into a floor drain and into the plant's internal sewer system when a tank ruptured last month, creating a huge foam event and prompting environmental concerns.

Officials with PepsiCo and the City of Howell said most of the spill was contained after it created “a huge foaming event."

Carla Davidson, an analyst with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said that the magnitude of the spill was “highly unusual.” She said the high-sugar syrup could have a toxic effect on aquatic life if it got into rivers, lakes or streams.

Davidson said the company tried to treat the problem for two days without asking for assistance. When the system became overwhelmed, they called the DEQ Pollution Emergency Alert System line. That was on March 12.

She said that the company could have chosen to isolate it and have it hauled away to protect the integrity of their system. Davidson that's what DEQ would recommend during a spill event like this one. She also noted that she did not arrive at the plant until later and information about the initial chain of events is based on reports from PepsiCo and DEQ staff.

Most of the spill flowed into the on-site storm water detention basin but a small amount also flowed into a ditch behind a neighboring facility. An earthen dam was built to contain it, Davidson said.

She said she believes Pepsi is cleaning up the mess and they will work with the company to prevent a mess like this from happening again. She stressed that there was note a threat to water in the area.

“There was not a release to surface water that we know of, so that’s also a positive.”

First reported by the Livingston Daily.