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Reality Check: Could 'trash juice' be reaching the French Broad River?

The French Broad Riverkeeper says he wants to test the water quality by the transfer station. (Photo credit: WLOS)

A News 13 viewer wants to know if liquid coming off trucks going in and out of the Buncombe County Transfer Station by Hominy Creek is a problem. The creek joins the French Broad River not far from the transfer station.

"Trucks driving up and down the road are leaking fluids out of the back all the time. I don't know how much of that gets in the river, but it would be nice for that not to happen," said Tom Huml, a standup paddle board guide.

"I have witnessed garbage juice coming off of these trucks," French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson said.

And garbage juice is not something you want to get into bodies of water, he said.

"Our garbage trucks are filled with some pretty nasty stuff. Even if it's just household waste, which isn't always the case, you're talking about high levels of E. coli. You're talking about chemicals and pesticides. You're talking about a lot of stuff that you don't want in waterways," Carson said.

News 13 cameras did not catch trash juice coming off trucks, but crews did find evidence of some sort of liquid left behind on the roadway. An afternoon downpour showed how those remnants could run off the road and into the creek.

"Hominy Creek is not as clean as we would like it to be," Carson said.

The creek is an orangish brown. The French Broad is more green.

"You can already get an idea of the pollution that Hominy Creek is contributing to the French Broad, and we want to reduce that as much as we can," Carson said.

In 2013, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed an environmental bill that on Page 55 changed the rules for trash trucks. Instead of requiring trucks to be leak proof, the law allows them to be leak resistant.

"It seemed like a not that important bill at the time, but you take a lot of garbage trucks on a lot of roads in a lot of cities around the state and it can add up to be a pretty big pollution problem," Carson said.

He said he plans to test the water quality by the transfer station, but has not done so yet.

"It's somewhat of an issue, hard to say if it's a catastrophic problem or a small problem," Carson said.


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