County investigates company caught on camera dumping liquid into storm drain

(WSVN) - These days, if you’re doing something wrong out in public view, there’s a good chance someone is going to catch it on camera. It’s a lesson one South Florida company has learned the hard way. Here’s our 7News investigation.

Down the drain it went. This video shows two men pouring a brown liquid from a drum directly into a storm drain behind a Sunrise warehouse.

Man in video: “Look at that! Horrible!”

The liquid is followed by solid chunks of “something.”

Man in video: “It says ‘no dumping,’ right there on it, ‘no dumping!’ But let’s dump all that [expletive] right into our environment.”

The recording was taken in May and obtained by 7News. It was also sent to Broward County’s Environmental Protection Department, which launched an investigation into the incident.

Ashok Raichoudhury, Broward County Environmental Protection Department: “They did it intentionally. It was not, you know, an accident. It is a big deal, because we have this prohibition to discharge in the storm drain for a long time.”

Despite what you might think, what goes into a storm drain does not get treated at a wastewater plant, like what gets flushed down a toilet.

Since it’s supposed to be only rain water, it empties directly into nearby canals and ponds that make up South Florida’s fragile ecosystem.

Ashok Raichoudhury: “All these canals are connected to each other. And ultimately they are discharging either to the ocean or the Everglades.”

So what was in the drum?

Cliff Knochel, I’m a Little Teacup Corporation: “That batch was chicken liver, cranberry and eyebright. All of them are herbs, all of them are natural. It’s specifically made to be consumed by domestic animals. So it cannot harm the environment, or the waste system, nothing.”

Inside this Sunrise warehouse, the company I’m a Little Teacup manufactures an ingestible pet product called “angels’ eyes,” used to rid tear stains from under dogs’ eyes.

The company says their products have no grease, pesticides or harmful material, and that the problem occurred when they tried to dilute — and discard – an improperly measured batch.

Cliff Knochel, I’m a Little Teacup: “We realize that was a mistake. It was an isolated incident and something that will never, ever happen again.”

But it’s not the first time I’m a Little Teacup has had a run-in with regulators. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration sent the company a warning letter stating an inspection revealed it was using an antibiotic, without approval, in its tear stain remover products.

The company says it stopped using the antibiotic, and the FDA confirmed that to 7News.

As for this latest incident, the county agreed no hazardous material was involved, but has issued a notice of violation against the company for dumping its product down the drain.

A hearing on the violation is scheduled for later this month, but the county says it’s working with the company on a possible settlement.

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