A website dedicated to news interests involving small, unmanned aviation systems (sUAS), or drones, reports on an interesting development in Dallas, Texas, related to a meat packing plant.
A Dallas (sUAS) enthusiast testing his camera equipped drone noticed something odd about the overhead landscape images he had taken: a “river of blood” was clearly flowing from behind a well-known meat-packing plant in Dallas.
Speaking to sUAS News, the drone operator said, “I was looking at images after the flight that showed a blood red creek and was thinking, could this really be what I think it is? Can you really do that, surely not? Then comes the question of who do I report this to that can find out what it is and where it is coming from.”
The drone operator (choosing to remain anonymous) finally contacted the Coast Guard and explained to them what was seen by the small camera equipped drone. The anonymous operator was told that the appropriate authorities, including the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environment Quality) would be notified, and a local investigator was dispatched onsite within 20 minutes.
Fox affiliate KDFW-TV reported last week that a criminal investigation is under way at Columbia Packing Co., Inc., based on the drone photographs showing what appeared to be pig blood flowing in nearby Cedar Creek, which feeds directly into the Trinity River.
The EPA, TCEQ, and Texas Parks and Wildlife executed a search warrant, and Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force has watched the plant for two months after they first received the information. Dallas County has also been working with federal and state investigators ever since the tip came in.
“Any time there is some type of discharge into the Trinity River…especially from an environmental standpoint, this is a real concern,” said the Texas Health and Human Services chief. “I think they discovered a secondary pipe again is my understanding, so the question is who installed the pipe and why was it there.”
“It goes to show the length some companies will go to violate environmental laws,” Zach Trahan, program director for the non-profit Texas Campaign for the Environment, told FoxNews.com.
“Building an underground pipe to take their industrial waste into a creek behind the plant is clearly against our clean water laws in this state and in this country,” said Trahan, who blasted what he called an old “go-dump-it-out-back” attitude “still going on in this day and age in the heart of Dallas.”
A small drone was also recently used to track Japanese whaling operations. Gary Mortimer with sUAS News notes that unmanned aviation is making a positive environmental difference, and suggests this could be a fantastic new niche service for small private businesses.
Kashmir Hill with Forbes claims amateurs are free to fly drones as long as they keep them under 400 feet and aren’t planning to use the footage for any commercial purpose. Though businesses can’t currently use drones, drones can be used against them, writes Hill.
A local Dallas news station reports the Dallas City Attorney has now cited Columbia Meat Packing Plant with numerous violations in connection with apparent runoff into city waters. The city said any of the violations could create health and safety problems for employees, neighbors and the general public.