A local environmental group plans to sue a trucking firm over last week's tanker explosion in west Nashville.
The Richland Creek Watershed Alliance sent a letter to the Tri-Star Transport Company claiming fuel has spilled into Richland Creek. The group plans to sue Tri-Star within the next two months if the spill is not cleaned up.
The organization said people have found dead fish, crayfish and snakes in the cleanup area. Some neighbors in the area are also reporting a strong odor.
When the crash happened, Richland Creek Watershed Alliance Executive Director Monette Rebecca said she was listening as first responders said fuel reached the creek.
Hours later, Rebecca said she heard the opposite from Shield Environmental Associates, the company hired by Tri-Star to clean up the mess.
"What we understood was that nothing entered the creek," Rebecca said. "That's what they said, no free product entered the creek. That's not true."
Days after the spill, Rebecca and an intern took photos of the creek contradicting what they had been told.
"We saw the Shield company sucking out oil," Rebecca said. "We saw dead fish being siphoned through the vacuum hose."
Rebecca went back three days later and took more photos after neighbors complained.
Geologist Charles Phillips with Shield Environmental Associates confirmed there are traces of diesel in the creek's soil and water. He said contractors laid down booms and pads right after the explosion to absorb the fuel in case it showed up. He added workers have been changing them out.
When asked why he said there was no free product in the creek initially, Phillips explained there is a sheen on the water, not oil that can be measured.
Phillips said the water will be sampled and tested in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Rebecca said she won't back down until the creek is cleaned and the company speaks up.
"Say what happened and do their due diligence to clean it up," Rebecca said. "If we don't tell the truth, we can't act on the truth."
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