Last weekend, residents near Eagle Bend Road noticed small black specks on everything from their boats to the bottom of their pets’ feet.
Matthew Oropallo, who lives just off Eagle Bend Road on Elizabethton Way, has noticed it on and off since he and his family moved to the area about a year ago.
“The first thing we noticed is that there is a fairly distinctive smell,” he said. “Not often, but I associate it with that plant.”
He said that Carlisle Tire sits close to his road, and the smell of rubber tires is noticeable.
Now, though, he’s concerned that it’s more than just a smell.
Carlisle Tire, also known as the Carlstar Group, has had a couple of complaints filed against them with the Environmental Protection Agency by residents for “fugitive dust” in the recent past.
The most recent was on July 23, the same time period that Oropallo noticed it, by a different Elizabethton Way resident.
The one prior to that was on May 2 for “black soot and dust impacting home from Carlstar [and] getting on yard/chairs.”
The Tennessee Department of Energy and Conservation division of air pollution control investigated the May complaint and found no violations.
However, the final report did say that the company “went over control devices and found a problem with the silo pressure relief valve and corrected the problem.”
It’s important to note that even with that reported issue, the company was not over the permitted limit of emissions.
Oropallo said that he has always noticed little streaks on things he would leave outside. Recently, he purchased a boat that didn’t fit in the garage.
“We brought it home and spent three hours cleaning it inside and out,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘Let’s leave it uncovered.’”
The next morning, he and his wife noticed bigger black specks. They took a rag and wiped it, but it wouldn’t come off. It just streaked the boat.
“It was 10-times worse,” he said.
“It’s like somebody took a black pepper shaker. If you wipe it with anything, it just smears.”
That’s when he posted something to the “I love Clinton” Facebook page, and got a bigger response than he ever anticipated — more than 100. Some people commented to say they thought it was some type of fungus while many others reported their feet becoming black if they walked outside barefoot.
Even their dogs were coming inside with black feet and legs.
Eagle Bend resident Pamela Walker told The Courier News that her back porch has a black, greasy residue on it, and her hot tub does as well. She, too, said it’s very hard to clean off.
City of Clinton Mayor Scott Burton got pulled into the conversation, and the issue was brought up during the last City of Clinton council meeting. Anderson County Economic Development Association President Tim Thompson said in an interview with The Courier News that he has spoken to a few of the local industries to figure out if it’s something they’re doing, but the city doesn’t know what’s going on yet.
“We never noticed black on the dog’s paws until the day it was on the boat,” Oropallo said.
“I hate to have it continue to happen. It’s getting on our roof and it’s on our house.
“We may be breathing it in.”