When a Dallas man flying his small unmanned aviation system (sUAS) equipped with a camera spotted a stream of blood flowing into the larger Trinity River in Oak Cliff, Texas, he reported it to authorities.
According to the local CBS affiliate, it was traced back to a local meat packing company -- the Columbia Packing Company -- which was illegally dumping animal blood into Cedar Creek, the company is now under both state and federal investigation. The company has denied knowledge that this action was intentional.
sUAS News reports the account of the man who snapped the image of the plume of blood (he preferred not to be named):
I was looking at images after the flight that showed a blood red creek and was thinking, could this really be what I think it is? Can you really do that, surely not?
Whatever it is, it was flat out gross. Then comes the question of who do I report this to that can find out what it is and where it is coming from.
The Coast Guard staffed 800 number was answered immediately, and I explained to the officer what I had seen and how. I asked if I had called the correct place, and was assured that I had. The officer took my report and asked me quite a few questions. I then asked what was going to happen from here, and I was told that the appropriate authorities, including the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environment Quality) would be notified. A local investigator was dispatched within 20 minutes and onsite within another 20.
CBS reported last week that the Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force had been investigating the plant for two months and with this photo evidence brought in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Health and Human Services. A search with a warrant by these organizations revealed a pipe not that was not connected to the waste water system, CBS reported:
“I think they discovered a secondary pipe again is my understanding, so the question is who installed the pipe and why was it there," [Health and Human Services chief Zach Thompson said.]
Watch a local Fox report:
In a statement on Monday, the plant said that it would not "intentionally engage in the activities recently alleged in the media":
It was surprised by the allegations raised last week and was previously unaware of any such concerns. When notified of the potential issues, it fully cooperated with the government officials to answer any questions and to take any necessary action. Columbia ceased operation pending approval from the governmental agencies to resume its normal operation.
sUAS News considers this a victory for the citizen drone pilot stating that "making a positive environmental difference."
The Dallas plant is not the only meat packing plant being investigated at this time for its disposal of animal byproducts. The Telegraph reports that a plant in Poland is being investigated for similar issues that sent blood shooting out of man holes. Check out the Telegraph video evidence: