Trashing Region 8: Plant Diesel in Court

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - On April the 15th the scene in Brookland was greasy after employees of Plant Diesel dumped thousands of gallons of cooking oil into a ditch after one of their trucks ran off the road.

Two months later, the company's owner, Dennis McClanahan appeared in court.

"Do you think this is okay for what your company did, considering this is hurting the environment," I asked.  "Well, considering it's vegetable oil, everytime somebody washes their dishes they does the same thing," replied McClanahan.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said the spill raised the Ph level in the water to a level of 9.35 points.

"Any chemical, in the right concentration, can be harmful to the environment. Just because it's non-hazardous does not mean it's not a pollutant," said Brent Walker of ADEQ.

Even McClanahan admitted that too much of anything can be bad to the environment.

"What I say is too much of anything will hurt you. If you dump 5,000 gallons of sugar out there, it would kill something," said McClanahan.

But even a little can add up to a lot when it comes to polluting the environment, and this is not McClanahan's first spill of this sort.

"There have been spills and incidents since August of '06," said Walker.

And whileTuesday's hearing was continued until the first of July, those with the Department of Environmental Quality say they are confident that the judge will give the right sentence.

"Mr. McClanahan has plead guilty already to the charge. So, I think what the judge is doing is giving him an opportunity to get completely cleaned up out there before he sets the fine," said George Johnson of Craighead County's Department of Environmental Services.

Whatever, the fine may be, it will go without saying that the consequences of illegal dumping of any kind, won't be handed down lightly.

"I think we are making the statement that you can't do that in Craighead County," said Johnson.

McClanahan's sentencing was set for July the first at 9:00 a.m.

Coming up:

Next week on Trashing Region Eight, it's an episode we're proud to share with you as we look back on some of the sites we've been to and show you the incredible progress that's been made.