Part of Pennsauken Creek runs red after food dye mishap

Officials said there is no risk to residents living near the Woodstream Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Part of Pennsauken Creek runs red after food dye mishap
Officials said a local beverage manufacturer improperly dumped red food dye into the wastewater system.

EVESHAM TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- Neighbors in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, woke up Tuesday morning stunned after discovering a portion of the Pennsauken Creek that runs through their backyard had turned bright red overnight.

"I've been here 40 years and I've never seen anything close. It looks like somebody dumped 500 gallons of red paint," said neighbor Fred Schwartz.

Chopper 6 flew over the creek and the nearby Evesham Municipal Utilities Authority and could see the bright red water rushing away from the facility.

Rocky McGuigan, of Mount Laurel, was brave enough to trudge through the mysterious water, only to find a dead fish that left him very concerned about the creek's wildlife.

"We have geese, ducks, deer, fox turkeys, and it's just nice to see them have a place to have refuge," he said.

After countless calls to the Department of Environmental Protection and local officials, the Evesham Township Municipal Utilities Authority revealed the source for the red color.

"A local beverage manufacturer in one of our industrial parks had improperly discharged red dye into the wastewater treatment system," said Frank Locantore, director of personnel, safety and security for the Evesham Municipal Utilities Authority.

The DEP says TopPop Packaging Co. in Evesham discharged the red dye but it was not hazardous.

"To get into our wastewater treatment system it would have had to be dumped into either a toilet or some type of drain that's attached to the sewer system," said Locantore.

The DEP issued TopPop a Notice of Violation for the discharge.

Knowing the source is somewhat of a relief for Rocky and his dog Casey, but he says they won't be cooling off in the creek until it's gone.

The Municipal Utilities Authority says the red dye should clear in 24-48 hours, and they do plan on testing the water to make sure it's just food dye.