An incident at a Michigan Pepsi bottling plant sparked environmental concerns after nearly 7,200 gallons of Mountain Dew syrup spilled into a floor drain and into the plant’s internal sewer system when a tank ruptured last month.

Officials with PepsiCo and the city where the plant is located, Howell, said most of the spill was contained after it created “a huge foaming event,” the Livingston Daily reported Monday. 

Carla Davidson, an analyst with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, told the newspaper that the magnitude of the spill was “highly unusual.” The soda syrup could have a toxic effect on aquatic life if it got into rivers, lakes or streams.


Officials at the plant tried to treat the problem without any help for two days before the system became overwhelmed, the Livingston Daily reported. The DEQ received an alert from the Pollution Emergency Alert System when the syrup, mixed with waste water, sent more than 50,000 gallons of sugar-laced sewage flowing out of the system.

Davidson said the waste water was mostly contained at the water detention basin at the plant, while a small amount went into a ditch behind Key Plastics. Howell City Manager Shea Charles told the paper that did not get into the public spill system.

There are still questions that remain in the spills aftermath, Davidson said. She said she wanted to know why the tank holding the syrup ruptured and if any other tank could face a similar issue.

“As far as impact to the environment, I think Pepsi is cleaning it up, and we’ll be working with them to prevent discharges like this from happening in the future,” Davidson said. “There was not a release to surface water that we know of, so that’s also a positive.”

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