Discharge of Hydraulic Oil to Little Sugar Creek in Mecklenburg County

Rusty Rozzelle
Mecklenburg County Seal, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services Logo and the City of Charlotte Crown Logo

Mecklenburg County, N.C. – On Monday, February 20, 2023, contractors boring under Morehead Street in Charlotte experienced an equipment failure that resulted in the release of an estimated 150 gallons of hydraulic oil, with an estimated 20 to 30 gallons reaching Little Sugar Creek immediately downstream in the area of Medical Center Drive.  Clean up efforts are underway, including the placement of floating petroleum booms across the creek at nine (9) different locations downstream to the confluence with Briar Creek upstream of Tyvola Road.  These booms serve to contain and collect the oil for removal.  A small amount of residual material has made it past the booms that is visible from the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.  This is an active environmental cleanup that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services will continue to oversee for several more days until the product is removed and conditions restored.  Impacts to aquatic life are always a concern with discharges to our creeks.  To date, no negative impacts have been observed and none are expected going forward.  There are no threats to human health from the discharge.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services was made aware of the discharge following a report of an oil sheen on the creek by a citizen walking along the greenway. These types of reports of potential pollution problems are essential in our efforts to protect and restore our water resources in Mecklenburg County. An oil sheen is only one of many indicators of possible water quality problems, including dead fish, frogs, crayfish and other aquatic life, discolored water, odors, and any other unusual observations in or around the water body.  When these are observed, contact 3-1-1 (or call 704-336-7600) during the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9-1-1 if observations are made outside this time frame.  Information is relayed to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services for immediate response to ensure problems are resolved and environmental conditions restored.