Chemical leak on Highland Park Ave. leads to police investigation

Neighbor says 'foamy' chemical emitted an 'almond-like odor, but stronger'

UPDATE: The nineteen barrels were not initially in the dumpsters seen in the story. They were lined up in front of the residence’s garage to the street. The EPA put the drums in the dumpsters as part of the cleanup effort. News 12 reached out to Mitchell Underwood, the water quality specialist for the city of Chattanooga, for further comment and received no response.


CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A quiet Friday night was rudely interrupted as police, fire and even the EPA had to come out to inspect these dumpsters that were filled with nineteen 55-gallon drums leaking an unknown fluid.

It all happened in the 1400 block of Highland Park Avenue. According to the neighbor across the street who didn’t want us to show his face on-camera, he says two men started coming to the house a week ago, storing the drums in the dumpsters, but something wasn’t right.

One neighbor that lives across the street from the house says, “From what I understood, there was a foamy chemical in them. I did see it leaked or something. That’s what prompted fire trucks, police cars, and then the EPA. They’re the ones doing the cleanup, and they told me it’s going to be very expensive to clean that up.”

According to Lindsey Rogers, the Chattanooga Fire Department’s public information officer, the department’s Special Operations Division didn’t believe the leak warranted an evacuation of residents, but neighbors weren’t so sure.

“The barrels were emitting an odor – I want to say like an almond-type smell but stronger – and the neighbor behind there had called cops because they smelled the odor.”

Cleanup took most of Saturday and a little bit on Sunday. What for the rest of us would be a major happening in our neighborhood is almost ‘run-of-the-mill’ here.

“A lot has happened in this neighborhood. We had an MS-13 gang member lived on this block a couple years ago. Seeing police cars in this neighborhood isn’t surprising to nobody.”

According to city officials, they’ve told the residents they’ll have an answer as to what the toxin is on Tuesday.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News