Friday, August 31, 2012

Drone used to catch illegal discharge

A Dallas hobbyist was testing his camera-equipped drone last November....  And when he looked at his images after the flight, he saw something suspicious.  A creek, running past a meat-packing plant, had turned blood red.

He didn't know where to report the suspicious activity.  Eventually he found the National Response Center, "the sole national point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological and etiological discharges into the environment, anywhere in the United States and its territories."  It's run by the Coast Guard.

He made a call, and a local investigator was on-site within 40 minutes of the call.  A search warrant was obtained, and the Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force had the plant under surveillance for two months.  They were concerned because Cedar Creek emptied into the nearby Trinity River.

The plant was run by Columbia Packing Company.  It was shut down after the investigation started.  The company was cited in 2008 and 2009 for inhumane slaughter and treatment of animals.  Source.

"This flight was undertaken completely within the law, below 400′ and visual line of sight. A simple point and shoot camera and $75 airframe are all that were needed."

Original story by Gary Mortimer at sUAS News.
More info on the drone used.  It carries a full-sized camera!


  1. I work at Columbia Packing, and the company has not been shut down as you've stated. The blood overflow was a genuine pipe blockage which all federal and state local authorities verified as an unintentional accident. It is frustrating to see news articles and blogs continue to incorrectly state that Columbia Packing was shut down for illegal "dumping" of blood. If in fact this was true, Columbia would truly be shut down as a business. The fact that the company is still open and conducting business clearly shows the sensational news media for not accurately following up investigations and just drumming up imagery to pin on "the evil slaughterhouse".

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