Second spill in days brings cleanup in city

Feb. 5—The second agriculture byproduct spill in a matter of days in Clinton happened on Saturday, following a similar spill two days prior. The most recent spill occurred on Old 24 Highway and North Peavine Road, which has been a frequent site of the slimy messes, with this at least the third at the intersection in little more than a year.

At 2:58 p.m. Saturday, Clinton Fire Department personnel responded to reports of an agriculture byproduct spill located at the intersection of Old 24 Hwy and North Peavine Rd. After arriving on scene, officers discovered an apparent agriculture spill at the location consisting of animal byproducts.

It was requested that Clinton Police officers help to try and locate the vehicle that caused the spill. The driver left the scene, according to Clinton Fire Chief Hagan D. Thornton. The Clinton Police Department will be handling the investigation.

Saturday's incident was just days removed from a Thursday spill that required cleanup and in which a driver was charged. That incident happened at the intersection of U.S. 421 North and Five Bridge Road. Officers located the vehicle parked on the shoulder of Five Bridge Road. Investigation revealed that a valve underneath the trailer was defective and leaking animal byproduct onto the roadway.

A Goldsboro man was charged with failing to secure load and unintentional littering in that incident. He was driving for JB Hunt, a third-party contractor for Darling Ingredients. A clean-up crew responded from Darling Ingredients.

There have been dozens of similar spills in Clinton in the last three years.

In April 2023, Clinton Mayor Lew Starling addressed the issue with state lawmakers, imploring the need for harsher penalties for offenders. Accompanied by Davis and City Manager JP Duncan, Starling presented pictures of spills that have occurred in Clinton and testified that 22 spills occurred in Clinton the past two years.

Concerns have been expressed over drivers leaving the scene of the spills, the extended hours and personnel utilized and the inability to be compensated for the resources used during clean-ups. Local officials advocated for stiffer penalties for drivers that leave the scene of a spill and for some sort of restitution for towns or government entities expending resources to clean up spills.

State lawmakers heard that plea and passed an amendment to the North Carolina General Statute, noting that "a willful violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 3 misdemeanor, and the court may order restitution for the cost of removing the materials that were blown, scattered, thrown, spilled, or placed from the vehicle." That amendment became effective in December.

If anyone has information about this incident, they are encouraged to contact the Clinton Police Department at 910-592-3105. Anonymous information can be provided through our tip service by texting 847411, beginning their message with "tipcpd."