Maybe you find it hilarious when your friend’s can of Mountain Dew erupts all over their shirt and face (unless you’re left cleaning up the mess on the floor, negating all the hilarity). But a large-scale spill of Mountain Dew syrup — resulting in a “huge foaming event” — was a genuine cause for concern at one Pepsi bottling facility.
About 7,200 gallons of concentrated Mountain Dew syrup spilled into a floor drain at a Pepsi bottling plant in Howell, MI after a tank ruptured on March 10, reports the Daily Press & Argus.
The resulting mixture of the syrup and the sewage material already in the system prompted environmental concerns, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
“A spill of this magnitude is highly unusual,” DEQ Senior Environmental Quality Analyst Carla Davidson told the paper, adding that if the sugary syrup makes it into rivers, screams, and lakes, it can be toxic for aquatic life.
The plant contained most of the spill, with city officials noting that none of the Mountain Dew/sewage mix made it into the public sewer system. But although Pepsi and the city both claim that plant management followed the proper procedures following the spill, DEQ’s Davidson sees it otherwise.
“They have an equalization basin; they knew there was a spill and they could have tried to isolate it, then have that waste water hauled away to protect the integrity of their pretreatment system,” she says, adding that that is what the DEQ would usually recommend.
Instead, she says the plant tried to take care of things without outside help for two days, and only gave in when the system became overwhelmed. The DEQ said its Pollution Emergency Alert System line was contacted just before midnight on March 12, to report that the mix had created a “huge foaming event.”
Most of the 56,000 gallons of sweetened sewage ended up in an on-site storm water detention basin, where it was contained.
As far as the impact to the environment, Davidson says she believes Pepsi is cleaning it up, “and we’ll be working with them to prevent discharges like this from happening in the future.”
Pepsi said in a statement that being “good stewards of the environment” and the communities it operates in is one of its highest priorities.
“When this event occurred we immediately took action to mitigate the impact, and we continue to work collaboratively with our neighbors and local agencies to ensure that our clean-up efforts are in compliance with all applicable regulations and meet our company’s high environmental standards,” the company said.