Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fayetteville Police Arrest Chemical Polluter

The City of Fayetteville is getting tough on water pollution. Local retail busnessman Elginald R. Gatson, 24, of 701 W. Sycamore was arrested yesterday by Fayetteville police while trying to flush 1.1 pounds of cocaine down a toilet, introducing the substance into the municipal sewer system, and eventually causing serious water quality problems when it made its way back into Beaver Lake, the primary water supply for Northwest Arkansas.

Flushing drugs and medications into municipal wastewater systems has become a serious problem. Last spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association announced they would work cooperatively to build consumer awareness of the hazards posed by the improper disposal of unused drugs and expired medications. It appears that Mr. Gatson was not aware of this consumer information campaign.

"Medications that are flushed down the toilet or thrown straight into the garbage can and do find their way into our nation's waterways every day. Those drugs are present in water that supports many species of fish and other wildlife," said H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We are concerned about reports of fish abnormalities possibly caused by improperly disposed prescription medications. That's why we are excited about this new partnership that can prevent fish and people from inadvertent exposure to prescription medication."

Gatson's inventory, valued at $31,000, was confiscated by city officials, and he might be charged with several felonies for his past business and sales practices. A spokesman for the Cowbirds would say this was just another instance of
Fayetteville stifling the entrepreneurial spirit of local businessmen and giving the city a deserved reputation for being unfriendly to business. "Arresting people for pollution is a job killer."

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