The plant is in Caraway’s district. So Tuesday was not a typical day in the office for Caraway.
“It’s our responsibility to know what’s going on,” he said, with binoculars in hand.
Caraway headed into brush nearby the plant, trying to get as close as he could to the Columbia Packing Company without trespassing.
“They wouldn’t let us onto the property, so we have to stay on our property and try and take a look.”
The city accuses the meat packing plant of 18 code violations, including dumping blood and other contaminants into the wastewater system.
City, state and federal investigators first became alarmed in November after a concerned citizen taking photos of the Trinity River and saw what appeared to be blood and alerted authorities.
According to Columbia’s website, the family-run business slaughters pigs and packages meat on-site.
Caraway requested a tour of the plant but, says that request has gone unanswered.
So he led a small delegation – including representatives from the city’s waste management office and the city attorney’s office — near the plant Tuesday morning with one goal in mind.
“You have to come for yourself and see what’s going on you can’t do a review just by paper work alone,” explained Caraway
After executing a search warrant earlier this month, investigators found a pipe not connected to any waste water system.
And Tuesday – after reviewing city maps — the group says it found that point, where the discharge leaked from the facility into the creek.
One of the members from the wastewater management team explained to the group where they were along the muddy embankment, “If you look straight this way you see kind of a green post that’s flagging where the sanitary sewer is, so it’s in or near the same location.”
The plant has said the draining of the contaminants was an accident caused by backed up sewer lines operated by the city. All of which is under investigation.
“Whoever is at fault they need to be dealt with properly,” said the councilman.
Company officials had no comment about Tuesday’s visit.
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