The company responsible for spilling 1,000 gallons of diesel into Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek just before Thanksgiving spent nearly $47,000 to clean up the mess, city officials said Friday.
Parkway Properties, the commercial real-estate firm that owns the NASCAR Plaza uptown, paid more than $37,000 to clean the creek of pungent oil that flowed 4 miles south from uptown to Park Road Shopping Center.
The firm also paid $4,225 for a civil penalty levied by the city of Charlotte, and a $5,000 voluntary donation to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, the Indian Trail-based nonprofit that found numerous dead ducks and turtles along the creek’s banks but managed to free and rehabilitate 20 mallards affected by contaminated waters.
The company will also pay for an upgrade to the building’s fuel system to prevent future spills.
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The city of Charlotte fined Parkway Properties for violating its stormwater pollution control ordinance. Penalties for a one-day violation go up to $5,000, but since Parkway was cooperative, responded quickly to the accident and paid significant cleanup costs, the fine was reduced, said Kristen O’Reilly, water quality specialist with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.
“Parkway Properties was very cooperative but ... we don’t take this issue lightly,” she said.
Included in the fine is $975 paid to the city for administrative costs. The rest will go to the state’s civil penalty and forfeiture fund, which gives more than $130 million to public schools. Officials estimate that 90 percent of the fuel discharged into the creek was recovered.
Residents and joggers on Nov. 25 alerted city firefighters to the spill after complaining of the smell. A park ranger spotted sheen in the water, and crews traced the source of the spill to a generator at the NASCAR building.
Cassie Zingery, managing partner for Parkway Properties, said in December the spill started when a switch on the generator failed to shut off and stop diesel from overflowing into a fuel tank.
The company has since replaced the switch and apologized for the spill’s damage. Oil sheen from the spill could be seen as far south as Pineville and into South Carolina.
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue reported that it found a number of dead birds – 10 in Freedom Park alone – and turtles, many of which died from ingesting the oil that burned their intestines. Others fell prey to raptors, coyotes and bobcats. The nonprofit on Christmas Eve released eight rehabilitated ducks back into the wild, with plans to release over a dozen more at the start of the new year.