Mountain Dew spill at Pepsi facility raises concerns in Howell

HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) - A Mountain Dew disaster gave city and state officials an unexpected jolt when a 7,200 gallon tank of the concentrated caffeinated syrup erupted at the Pepsi-Cola Production and Distribution plant in Howell on March 10th.

The company directed the spill into a pre-treatment system which dumped into a storm basin on the property holding more than 50,000 gallons according to Carla Davidson at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, speaking to 7 Action News over the phone from Lansing.

Two days later, the city of Howell got a wake up call.

“The strength of the sugary waste overwhelmed the plant, the plant started to foam,” says Shea Charles, Howell’s City Manager.

It created an “unusual” large foaming event according to Carla Davidson at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, speaking to 7 Action News over the phone from Lansing. She says 56,000 gallons of Mountain Dew tainted foam spread across Pepsi’s property on to the neighboring property owned by Key Plastics.

There was concern the thousands of gallons of sugar and caffeine would enter the city’s water system impacting the wildlife and creating an environmental hazard, thankfully that didn’t happen.

“Because it was very cold the foam froze immediately, so they were able to scrape it all up much easier,” says Charles.

“From the city’s perspective this was a non-issue. They did what they were supposed to in regards to the spill notifying everyone appropriately. They are reviewing internal procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Charles.

After investigating, MDEQ agreed that Pepsi acted quickly and appropriately and had protocol in place to prevent the Dew disaster from becoming an environmental hazard.

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