Blood in the Trinity, Crow on My Plate and Respect for the Caraways

Categories: Schutze

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Two years ago I toured the area around Columbia Packing Company on East 11th Street in Oak Cliff with city council member Dwaine Caraway and his wife, state Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway. The Caraways told me shocking stories of guts from nearby meat-packing operations piled in steaming heaps in the streets and animal blood turning a nearby creek red.

I also interviewed the owner of one of the operations the Caraways were campaigning against, and I was persuaded by his version of things: The lurid stories told by the Caraways were urban legends based half in gossip and half in who knows what, Bible stories?

So this is me eating crow.

Last week the operator of a remote-control airplane carrying a camera caught evidence of a foul red plume in a creek flowing between one of the slaughterhouses -- Columbia Packing Co. -- and the Trinity. Law enforcement officers staged a raid and told reporters later that the plant had installed bypass pipes taking a river of pig blood around the proper disposal equipment and pouring it straight into the creek, whence it flowed into the Trinity River.

Columbia Packing was formed in 1913 by the Ondrusek family. Joe Ondrusek, the third generation, runs the operation now, with a company motto, "We are family."

I tried several times this morning to reach Ondrusek. The people who answer the phone at the plant said they would get him for me. I stayed on hold for long stretches. Then they hung up.

I'm still willing to assume that the Ondruseks have their own version of this story, but I wonder what it could be? How do you put a good face on pumping a river of pig blood out into your own neighborhood?

Google Earth
An image from Google Earth captured a plume of red flowing into the Trinity River from Cedar Creek, presumably from a meatpacking plant up the creek -- in more ways than one.
For a long time I have worried about what I thought was wrong-headed demonization of legitimate tax-paying job-providing businesses by councilman Caraway, who has had strong support in his campaign from Tod Robberson of the The Dallas Morning News editorial page staff. I still think some of the hectoring of metal scrap yards in Caraway's sights has been unfair and illegitimate at its core.

If people are obeying the laws and carrying out legitimate business operations on property they have owned for years, it's bad medicine to go after them with a political cat-o'-nine-tails and try to force a sale at less than market rates. I believe I have seen a good deal of that going on in the area we're talking about right now. It's an open door to corruption.

But here is the crow I need to eat. I see now that councilman Caraway and Rep. Caraway may not have been repeating baseless urban legends when they told me about brazen outlaw behavior by the packing plants in this part of Oak Cliff near the Trinity. I need to acknowledge they were telling me things they knew about -- and I did not -- because they have lived in that area all their lives, and I have not.

The thing I always try to do with something like the pig blood story is put the other shoe on the foot and see how it walks. Let's imagine that the Columbia Packing Plant is located close to a more prosperous and whiter part of the city. Does it still install bypass pipes and dump a red plume of pig blood into the river nearby?

Maybe they do. Maybe. The Ondruseks are not talking, so we don't know their story. Maybe the bypass pipes are some kind of emergency system that must be used on rare occasions to avert an even greater catastrophe.

But then I also have to entertain and consider the view of the Caraways -- that various operators in this neighborhood, not just Columbia, have behaved in this way over the years because of a basic disrespect for the their own locale, an assumption that they are located in a dumping ground anyway so who cares if they dump a little more?

If the Caraways are right, then I don't even have to connect the rest of those dots for you, do I? If they are right, then their campaign against scrap yards and slaughter houses ceases to be about jobs created or taxes paid. It's about the people who operate these plants, their moral character, their view of the human beings who live around them and their sense of responsibility toward the natural resources nearby.

Right now, the evidence is leaning toward the Caraways. So far the response of the Ondruseks is 10 minutes of country music on their phone-hold system, a scratchy click and a dial tone. I believe they're going to have to do better than that.

Notice how when I was magnanimously offering to eat crow, I did not mention Robberson. Hey, there are limits.

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Hookem_74
Hookem_74

If I am not mistaken, don't most sewer lines require some sort of ventilation.. Which in turn could have the materials they carry forced back up them in the case of a clog downstream.. Also indicating that the clog could actually be in the cities portion of the sewer line? Also, if the city, EPA, Feds, state, whoever knew about this on Dec. 4th, why wait so long to act to shut it down? Playing devil advocate here..

Jollytex
Jollytex

This is a typical example of the power of the press overstepping its bounds and making someone "Guilty" and not allowing them to be innocent before the proof of Guilt. Let's look at this realistically. This incident was reported to the proper Government agency on or about December 9 by a concerned citizen that just happened on something that appeared irregular. Columbia packing was "raided" by a plethora of Government officials on January 19. The first question that needs to be asked is "Why did it take so long to notify Columbia Packing of a problem?" I personally know all of the officers of the company and there is no way that they would have done what all of the press is saying, "Columbia Packing has knowingly dumped the remains of their business into the creek that feeds into the Trinity River." I can believe that there might have been damaged drain system caused by the Extreme Drought of 2011 and subsequent rain this winter. The resulting shrinkage of the "fine" Black gumbo clay caused by the drought and expansion due to the rain could have caused major damages to the drain system. Since the result of the raid did not result in any arrests of the owners of Columbia Packing on the first day tends to indicate that they found no significant evidence of fraudulent dumping of raw waste and waste by-products. Another question, has any Government department found the "drain pipe" going into the creek that is proof of illegal dumping? When the problem was identified to Columbia Packing personnel, they promptly shut down the "kill floor", brought in their sewer subcontractor and began the process to identify the cause of the reported violation. Additionally, Columbia Packing sits on the edge of the flood plain of the Trinity River Basin and obviously if there was a sewer problem, there would be no other place for the liquid to flow but toward the Creek and eventually the river. To date, I haven't heard any proof of hidden pipes into the river, knowingly dumping, or any other improper or illegal act (the smoking gun). This appears to be just a will of nature. I watched these events unfold on the television news. They interviewed an owner of another business that was closely located to Columbia Packing. He states that "he never sees any type of trunk coming or leaving Columbia Packing that is used for the removal of the remains of the pig carcasses. Actually, they have a truck that comes by every day to remove any dead pigs from the shipping truck and all of the unusable parts of the pigs resulting from the process. This truck retrieves the remains from all of the local slaughterhouses and renders them into something (not sure that I really want to know what).It appears that we now live in a country whose laws no longer assume innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. The news media has the power to destroy any one or anything prior to having time to investigate charges, respond to any allegations or to have a day in court. Mr. Ondrusek (majority owner) is not the type of individual to purposely flaunt the laws and/or guidelines of the Local, County, State and US Governments for monetary gain. He goes out of his way to make sure that his business is responsible to these guidelines. His business seems to be to improve productivity, expand his lines of business and overall good business practices, not to cheat.We should all, including the news media use some common sense when reporting news worthy items and only report the facts. Of course, this approach does not appeal to the general public (in the mind of the reporters). We as a society have devolved to the idea that we can say or do anything that is necessary to sell the station or paper. As stated previously, most business are not allowed to use this approach to sell their product or use illegal methods to increase profit margins.IT'S TIME TO STOP THIS TYPE OF SENSATIONALISM TO BE THE "YOU HEARD IT FIRST ON CHANNEL X".

Observant
Observant

Google maps shows a picture of the same stream of blood taken via satellite at some other date. So that make two documented cases. Just an FYI.

Dfhfff
Dfhfff

I dont belive it, all I see in the comments section is political mumbo-jumbo and talk about who did what and what should be done. Not one word about the real issue here; there`s rivers of blood running thru the landscape. Blood! ok? Rivers, of blood. Our society is built on corpses of other species and rivers of blood. And no one cares, its just pigs, right? Gotta have bacon. You people make me sick, you are ignorant, stupid and dangerous.

miss piggy
miss piggy

you hypocritical disgusting red neck hillbilly americans crack me up.  pigs you are.  oink, oink.

Craigley
Craigley

That's world class, fools!

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Don't feel too bad even a Don Hill 2.0, like the blind pig, can stumble up an acorn.

Plus Don Hill 2.0 isn't worried about Poker Houses in violation of code and neighborhood standards.

I just figure the Caraways either didn't get a check or it didn't clear from the  Ondruseks.

Also, if the Caraways were shopping the story, why didn't Dallas' only daily run with it?

UnFair Pork
UnFair Pork

Time to build a "Signature Bridge" over that section of the Trinity. You know, something flashy to catch the eye before it wanders needlessly to the reddish swirls and eddies of detritus and bobbing water bottles.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

The Caraway's are right. I was born in that area in the 50's and I was told the smell was from Proctor and Gamble using road kill. Then, as I grew older, I was told the trinity was just plain funky. The smell was so bad in the 80's that people were saying there was a dog incinerator near the metal scrap yard.  In the summer, the smell is worse.  In that area, It was Dwayne that was responsible for having drug ridden apartments torn down. He has done a good job in that area within his power. I never understood how these apartments made in through 6 decades. Because these scrap yards are legitimate business, they have always been an unwanted business. I am thankful that the pigs blood deal has put focus on this area. I drive through this area daily and see prostitutes, Hoe-tels, dumping grounds for stray dogs, tires, and any other items that should go to the dump ground. I can't imagine who would need to stay in these hoe-tels in an area where there is rarely travelers. These places should only allowed near a freeway system.

It seems the business people in that area are there to get away with having a dirty business in an area that no one seem to care about. First it was Dixie Lead,  they are gone. Now its Columbia.

Rob Lew
Rob Lew

maybe the smell is coming from the PEOPLE, not the pigs?

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Gee whiz I didn't think that Mexico had made it all the way up to north the 32nd parallel, I thought we had'um contained in my neck of the woods ree scrubb. But I bet the alligator gar fishing is pretty good and catfish too.

pencil
pencil

That Google maps image is remarkable, especially since its probably from several years ago.

dt&ot
dt&ot

JimS, I love it when people are self-cleaning.  It is a good thing to announce your mistakes at least as loudly as you announce your accomplishments,

JimS
JimS

Perhaps I should add that  I was in the company of some older fellows of the angling persuasion this weekend who felt that a steady supply of pig blood might actually be good for the catfishing.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Why would you fish down there?  Do you like cancer? YUCK.

JimS
JimS

Cancer shmancer. You ever get a 30 lb channel cat on the end of a pole?

Rob Lew
Rob Lew

you eat tater salad with that mudbug fish or poke salat?

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

No, and iff'n I did, I'd f+cking shoot it-or cut my line!  NASTY.

RC
RC

I have always had good encounters with Dwaine. Being a "son of the city" like myself he knows Dallas history through a set of eyes that very few can claim. While we both have had different life experiences( he on the East side of Oak Cliff and me on the Southwest side) we know how the city rolls. Its hard to disagree with some of his claims of racial inequities. As with all of us, he has his faults, BUT as you said, he has heart and he listens to his constituents.

I don't consider him a politician looking for a future career, but more of a "man of his people" just trying to do the best job he can.

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

Someone should turn this into a comic book superhero....maybe, something about some kid who lives on the margins(it is S.Dallas, after all) is playing down there and suddenly falls into the water and accidentally ingest some of the water, and then mutates into some super crime fighting wonderboy...call the issues "The Amazing Adventures of Pig-Boy" or something???

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

Why don't we just bottle it up and sell it to the suburbs or Houston? We could call it "Swine Wine".

MBM
MBM

Serious question:  What is the negative impact of dumping blood in the river?  Bad for the ecosystem?  I'm sure in large quantities it can't be good, but what does it really do?

Or does it just chum the waters and attract man eating sharks?

Mikey
Mikey

Dallas will have the only water supply high in cholesterol.

Willie
Willie

Blood is oxygen-demanding, so it will negatively impact the aquatic life.  During the summer, pathogens in the intestines will survive quite a while, so these discharges are health hazards.  Plus, just think of all the tapeworms.  The liquid waste needs to go the sanitary sewer system, but the company was probably bypassing it because of the surcharges they would face for discharging high strength waste.  The intestines and other solid waste needs to be disposed of as, well, solid waste or sold for another market (e.g., chitlins) to use.  There are host of federal animal waste rules they are probably violating.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

You aren't being serious?  Dumping warm blood and pig parts into the river-REALLY?  I'm pretty sure (and I'm no scientist) that it's toxic; add that with everything else in that beast, and methinks going through the standing wave is akin to eating raw chicken-sir. 

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

Add some lemons and a few pinches of salt to it and it makes for a nice brine....helps the pork to retain it's flavor. YUMMY

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Same reason you shouldn't eat undercooked pork - pigs carry diseases that will eff you up.

Rob Lew
Rob Lew

The Trinity River, without pork junk, carries diseases that will eff you up....so, stay out of the Trinity.

Steve T
Steve T

ScottsMerkin

JWP is not at City Hall; he's a county official.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

good point, doesnt change the fact that he is "Mr Equity" does it?  He is not just ruining a city, but a whole county

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

So what is the punishment for this type of crime? Are we talking jail time or just fines? 

Willie
Willie

No doubt they are violating their permit from the City of Dallas to discharge into the sanitary sewer system.  They are also violating federal animal waste rules and probably a host of other regulations.  An illegal bypass is a willful violation that can result in jail time, particularly if company officers were in on it.  If they cooperate and clean up their act, they probably won't get jail but they will get a big-ass fine. 

Starspringsf
Starspringsf

very rare that corporate officers get jail time anymore if there is a monetary fine instead. Jailing means the county must begin paying to house and feed them.  Unless they can prove criminal negligence, like the dumping caused an indirect death, there will probably be a big fine, citation and a date to prove they are no longer via inspection and that is it. Environmental crime, like crime against animals, is not widely punished, and some not at all.

Mikey
Mikey

Depends on to whom they gave campaign money.

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

There's probably been a fair amount of human blood spilled in them thar parts of the Trinity, too.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Sure, but enough to require a special pipeline? Let's hope not.

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

I did hear that they were going to be shooting some more of those "The first 48" episodes down here....so???

Guest
Guest

Good on you, Jim. You're hard-headed as hell, but have the wisdom to modify as needed.

A few comments:I am a little perplexed (not really, see below) as to why none of the articles on this matter are giving a precise location, as in, Cadillac Heights.a) If the Columbia Packing Co. has been in business for almost 99 years, they know full well what the city and state laws are concerning water, permits and waste. It's a continuation of how it's always been in Cadillac Heights.

b) Cadillac Heights is a waste land, and the City doesn't want this stuff discussed. Interest on bond money is still being used to try and relocate folks because the polluting businesses never paid their fair share.

    1) All this talk about Frisco and the Exide lead smelter makes me boil over. Frisco has a good       chance of getting the situation resolved, yet Dixie Metals--a non-operational subsidiary of      Exide--left a big pile of contaminated rubbish in Cadillac Heights. It's still there, in the middle     of a neighborhood, with a for sale sign on the corner of the property. Think Frisco will     agree to a similar "cap in place" mitigation? 

     2) Where are the levees promised for Cadillac Heights? Is the City intentionally delaying the       construction as to incentivize the residents to move? 

     3) What if TCEQ and the EPA started tested more widely in the area? What would they find?      Who would pay?

The Caraways are doing a great service, but they can't move the issues forward without help. Help begins with awareness.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

  The situation in Cadillac Height is a done deal. Everyone knows the City has paid this hispanic community to move. As a matter of fact, the bulk, 95% of the poision and toxic air and soil was ingested by african american who were in this area starting in the 60's-80's. The City and its leaders did nothing and families started moving out.Then it turned hispanic in the late 80's and a few years later, Dixie Lead was shut down. The hispanic community was paid triple the amount to move from Cadillac Heights. Also, there is no for sale sign in Cadillac H., the city owns it and is planning for a police facility. If the land is truly toxic I'm sure it will be considered a brownfield site for redevelopment.

Rob Lew
Rob Lew

Change the name from "Cadillac Height" to "Yugo Valley"

claytonauger
claytonauger

Adding insult to injury, the city's gas drilling task force has voted to approve gas drilling in the floodplain, citing all the "undesirable businesses" there already. No mention of those "undesirable people" who the city forced to live there, crowded between those businesses.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dallas is a broken city that lines the pockets of it's LONG TERM politicians.  Good ole boy network at it's finest!  Sir. 

Welcome to Dallas, where our politico's grease there own pockets; all the while our schools are in shambles, our roads are eating cars, and our river is tainted with everything from bodies, to pig blood.  Where do I sigh up to live in said city?  

Sharon Boyd
Sharon Boyd

10 years or so ago, I was not a fan of the the Caraways.  Still don't agree with Dwayne or Barbara on everything -- but I take both of them much more seriously these days.  I now consider Dwane Caraway a close friend.  If he tells me he's going to do something, he won't hedge his bet and back out.  If he can't support something, he tells me straight out.

Dwayne has long begged his neighbors and constituents to take pride in their community, to clean up their yards and property.  He's never accepted that South Dallas and Oak Cliff neighbors can't be clean, safe, beautiful places to live and do business.He's a rarity on this city council -- not only a Texan, but raised in this city, football star in this city, family in this city.   Dallas is not a stopping point for Dwayne -- it's his hometown. 

Jim, glad you've had a chance to re-evaluate Dwayne and Barbara Caraway. 

JimS
JimS

Yeah. Good points. Dwaine stuck to Leppert too long. That was his big mistake. But it was Leppert, not Dawine, who said he had met with the Corps of Engiineers and they told him building a major highway in the middle of the flood plain would be completely safe. He's not JWP. The difference between Dwaine and JWP has a lot to do with heart. 

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dwaine Carraway is a buffoon!  He gave Mike Vick a key to the city?!  

ps-Wait, do you owe Dwaine money or something?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

In between all the shenanigans of archie and arthur and poker houses and keys to the city, at least he seems to care about his city and the people he represents, as opposed to that "equity" character over there at the Hall

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dang, I completely forgot about Archie and Arthur, and the police.....that shite was funny! It was rumored ole Bab's was fixin' to whip that ass. 

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