FORT MILL — Eighteen liquid tons of treated human waste spilled onto Interstate 77 in Fort Mill after a truck overturned Tuesday morning, spreading the biosolids that came from Charlotte along two ramps feet away from Carowinds.
Emergency crews were sent to I-77 at the Exit 90 on-ramp near Kentucky Fried Chicken after a truck carrying the waste fell onto its side at about 10:30 a.m. The driver was transporting the waste from the city of Charlotte to Columbia, where it was scheduled to be disposed at a landfill.
The Flint Hill Fire Department, York County Emergency Management, State Transport Police, Highway Patrol, the city of Charlotte and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control were all on scene Tuesday.
Crews were able to contain and secure the scene quickly, said Lt. Jeff Nash with the Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Department. Inside the truck, he said, authorities found data sheets showing that the waste was non-hazardous and would pose no health or environmental dangers. None of the waste was flammable.
The I-77 southbound ramp at Carowinds was closed for several hours while a backhoe scooped up the sludge and dumped it into a spare truck on scene. Workers then used shovels to scrape the rest of the biosolids from the truck bed so officials could stand it up and tow it away.
The Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the crash, but charged the driver, Jack Staley, of Mount Ulla, N.C., with driving too fast for conditions. Staley was driving for a trucking company contracted by Synagro, the residual waste company contracted by the city of Charlotte to dispose of treated biosolids.
Staley did not suffer any injuries, aside from a few scratches, Nash said.
The Class B sludge that spilled near the interstate is able to be applied to fields and crops to act as a fertilizer, said Lorrie Loder, Synagro spokeswoman. Its formed from wastewater sent through a treatment process that separates clean water from a dried byproduct that can be used for agricultural purposes. But some sludge of the Class B grade can also be tossed into a landfill cell containing a days worth of trash.
Once that waste is converted to Class B sludge, most of the microbes and harmful pathogens associated with it are destroyed, said Bill Yetman with the city of Rock Hill. He did not expect any long-term public health implications.
Michael Harrison of the Fort Mill Times contributed