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The original item was published from 8/28/2023 10:19:00 AM to 9/7/2023 12:00:01 AM.

News Flash

City of Durham News

Posted on: August 23, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Public Access to Creek in Burton Park Blocked Due to Upstream Illegal Discharge by a Local Company

Testing is underway in a creek running beside Burton Park. Go to for more.

Bilingual Signs and Temporary Fencing Being Installed Along Creek Inside the Park

Beginning today (August 23, 2023), Burton Park visitors are not allowed to wade or play in the creek that runs through this public park after the City of Durham received test results in response to a notice of violation of an illegal discharge by a local company.

What You Need to Know

  • On August 16, 2023, Brenntag Mid-South, Inc. submitted a sampling report to the City showing chemicals were released into an unnamed creek beside their property.
  • The sampling report was submitted to the City in response to ongoing enforcement against Brenntag for an illegal discharge originally identified in July 2022.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, no wading or playing in the creek in Burton Park is allowed until additional testing of the stream water is completed to provide more information about the chemicals identified in the first report.
  • Bilingual signs and temporary fencing are being installed along the creek bank in the park to prevent access to the creek.

On Wednesday, August 16, Brenntag Mid-South, Inc. provided their discharge water sampling results to the City’s Public Works Department Stormwater Services Division, indicating that their sampling found high levels of toluene, ethanol, and acetone in the water at the edge of their facility, which is located at 2000 E. Pettigrew St.

Since this unnamed tributary flows beneath N.C. Hwy. 147 and eventually flows through Burton Park, located at 1501 Sima Ave., the City is installing fencing along the creek inside the park and bilingual signage informing park visitors of the upstream discharge and to stay out of the creek until further water testing can be done both inside Burton Park as well as further downstream. This additional testing is expected to begin by August 25, 2023. This discharge does not affect Durham’s drinking water.

The discharge water sample results were submitted to the City in response to ongoing City enforcement mandating compliance with the City’s stormwater ordinance. After receiving the Brenntag report last week, Public Works staff immediately notified Brenntag to stop the illegal discharge, begin further testing, and prepare a plain-language summary of their report to be posted on the City’s Burton Park Water Quality Notice webpage.

The Public Works Department has also submitted the Brenntag report to the North Carolina Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources (NCDEMLR) as well as notified the Durham County Department of Public Health, and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Attorney’s Office. Since Durham Public Schools, Durham Housing Authority, and Durham Parks and Recreation manage properties near this creek, these organizations have also been notified to help inform their residents, students, and visitors to stay out of the creek until further water quality testing can be completed.

Public Works staff have instructed Brenntag to expand their water quality monitoring to Burton Park and farther downstream to determine the extent of the discharge and the number of public and private properties impacted. Public Works staff is also awaiting further guidance from NCDEMLR.

Updates on future water sampling test results and any next steps that will be required of Brenntag will be posted on the City’s Burton Park Water Quality Notice webpage.

About the Public Works Department Stormwater Division

The Stormwater Division with the City of Durham Public Works Department is guided by the City’s Strategic Plan goals of sustainable, natural, and built environment and innovative and high-performing organization. Activities include storm drainage design and plans review; inspecting and maintaining City-owned drainage systems; enforcing stormwater ordinances and regulations; education and outreach; stream monitoring, restoration, and watershed master planning. To learn more, follow on Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram.

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