Marine Fisheries empty fire extinguishers near water, some gets into South River

CARTERET COUNTY, NC (WITN) - The Division of Marine Fisheries says some of its employees emptied out fire extinguishers near the South River in Carteret County, and some of the chemicals ended up in the waterway.

A local environmental cleanup company had to be brought in to their South River facility to clean up the mess.

Spokeswoman Patricia Smith says it happened Thursday when 25 out-of-date fire extinguishers were being discarded. She said they aren't sure how many employees were involved, but that the extinguishers were emptied around the river bulkhead.

Smith says most of the chemicals remained on shore, but there was a sheen in the water.

Booms were put out to contain the chemical, and they were able to keep it from spreading further downstream. She says cleanup finished today.

The extinguishers have 10 pounds of chemicals in each one, according to the spokeswoman.

Smith says they don't know yet how much the cleanup will cost the state agency. When asked about any disciplinary action, Smith said the agency is still investigating what happened and the results will be turned over to human resources.

The agency says the dry chemicals are not hazardous for humans, but it could cause harm to the environment.

Landfills will not take fire extinguishers unless they are empty and Smith says they will be learning the proper way to dispose of them.