Overall, the treatment plant had done what it was designed to do. We didn’t see an oil sheen or any evidence of it escaping the treatment plant. —Kevin Cowan
SYRACUSE — Authorities in Davis County are trying to find out who illegally dumped about 1,000 gallons of used motor oil into the North Davis Sewer System.
The intake flume is where plant operators first noticed a black fluid coming into the Syracuse treatment plant around 7:15 a.m. on Feb. 21.
“There was an aroma of oil, a little bit of a diesel odor to it,” plant manager Kevin Cowan said.
Operators think the oil was dumped into the system between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
“We’ve actually never see anything like this before,” he said.
They suspect the oil was collected from area car service centers and pumped from a large tanker by hose into a manhole.
Investigators tried to track the source as the oil flowed for 90 minutes then spent two days looking under manholes for evidence of where it might have been dumped. While they could not pinpoint an exact location, they determined it was coming from the south part of the district, either in west Layton or south Syracuse.
“We don’t know who did it,” Cowan said. “We don’t know where it was dumped into the system.”
The oil made it to a tank called a clarifier. It turned the entire surface of the water black. That oil was then skimmed off and sent over to tanks called a digester where, over time, that oil breaks down. The treated water was then put back into the environment.
“Overall, the treatment plant had done what it was designed to do,” Cowan said. “We didn’t see an oil sheen or any evidence of it escaping the treatment plant.”
The crime is especially baffling to plant operators and the Department of Environmental Quality because the used motor oil is a valuable commodity worth more than $2 a gallon. One theory is the oil in the tanker was somehow contaminated with another chemical and was not acceptable to a recycler.
“Then, he’s got a tank full of this motor oil that cannot be recycled, what do I do with it?” Cowan said.
Anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity like that in west Layton or south Syracuse is asked to call the North Davis sewer district at 801-825-0712.