Barrels of mystery waste have neighbors concerned

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- Homeowners are getting answers after a potentially toxic solution was dumped near a south east Shelby County neighborhood.

The barrels have been near a subdivision on what appears to be public property for months. One concerned citizen says he’s reached out multiple times for help but no one has cleaned up the mess, and the site is almost scary.

Large black barrels are on a small plot of land that backs up to a drainage ditch feet from the homes in the Ragan Farms subdivision off Crumpler.

The barrels sit below a sign—clearly stating “No Dumping.”

The warning did not deter litter bugs.

The thought of what could be in these barrels is making residents uneasy.

"My family is scared. They don’t know what’s going on. We could be in danger living next to it.”

The man who lives in the subdivision and reached out to WREG does not feel comfortable identifying himself.

He said he’s reached out to multiple agencies for help since July but nothing has been done.

"It’s got me so frustrated I’ve actually considered moving and I know it’s bringing the value down of the properties over there," he said.

"I was just wondering if I could get some help from you all, just to help me out and get this cleaned up.”

Next to the barrels appears to be a large, dark spill.

But what that solution could be is unclear. A weathered label on one of the barrels appears to say "coolant, antifreeze."

WREG reporter Shay Arthur started sending some emails and within minutes Chris Masin, a senior engineer and Shelby County storm water inspector was out taking a look.

Masin says it doesn’t look like anything has leaked into the ditch.

"I just went down there and made that assessment," he explained.

Masin said this was his first time hearing about the issue, he walked WREG through what happens next.

"Containment is number one. Number two is to figure out what we actually have," he said.

Masin said right now that’s hard to tell and the large spill of what smelled like oil, next to the barrels may or may not be related. They plan to get a team out to secure the area and run tests.

"Make sure it’s nothing volatile because I’d hate to move something and it cause a leak as we’re moving them.”

News the county is getting involved is welcomed to nearby homeowners.

A hazmat crew will also be brought in to assist. Masin said they plan to run tests tomorrow morning.

The State of Tennessee will also be assisting in the investigation.

If you want to report illegal dumping in Shelby County you can reach out to the Shelby County Mayor's Action Center at 901-222-2300.

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