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Plant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee 
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Plant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee 

Plant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee 
Crews work at the site of chemicals in a Smyrna creek that left it chalky white. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Plant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee 

Prosecutors say a Cobb County plant manager allegedly ordered toxic chemicals be washed into a tributary of the Chattahoochee River and lied about it to authorities.

Carlos Conde, 37, has been indicted on charges of violating the Clean Water Act and lying to agents following the 2016 spill, according to a Wednesday news release from federal prosecutors.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time, some of the 25 residents in the Kenwood subdivision in Smyrna called authorities the morning of Aug. 13, 2016 saying that the creek behind their homes had turned milky.

Conde, of Smyrna, ran daily operations at Apollo Industries, now Plaze Georgia, when the spill happened.

A message for a vice president at Plaze was not immediately returned Wednesday.


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“Conde allegedly instructed workers to intentionally wash toxic and hazardous chemicals into the Chattahoochee River watershed,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in the news release. “The Chattahoochee is one of Georgia’s jewels that must be protected from those who recklessly damage the wildlife and environment.”

On Aug. 12, 2016 a batching tank at Apollo’s chemical mixing facility in Smyrna started leaking naphthalene, which is used to clean carburetors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says naphthalene smells like mothballs and can be toxic to humans in large doses.


READNearly a dozen decapitated goats found in Chattahoochee River


The next morning, the feds said, two workers found the leak and called Conde, who allegedly told them to wash it into an unnamed offshoot of the Chattahoochee and Nickajack Creek.

Conde then twice denied his role in the spill during interviews with a federal agent and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The case has been sealed by a judge, federal prosecutors said Wednesday, so no further details are publicly known.

Bert Langley, director of compliance at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said at the time that his staff removed 500,000 gallons of contaminated water from the creek and moved it to storage tanks at Apollo for disposal or treatment.


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Langley said the leak killed as many as several hundred fish. He explained that the impact was so great and concentrated because the creek was so small.

Apollo at the time posted a letter on its website saying it had hired a consultant to help with the testing and another to help figure out how the spill happened, which they said would include interviewing employees.

“It is important that we continue to remain vigilant to protect our precious waters throughout the southeast,” said Trey Glenn, regional EPA administrator, said in the news release.

Conde’s next court date was not available online.

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Plant manager allegedly ordered chemicals be washed into Chattahoochee 

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  • A Chicago police officer and two hospital employees, including an emergency room doctor, were killed Monday afternoon when a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center on the city’s South Side, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  The gunman was found dead after officers responded to the scene just before 3:30 p.m. CST. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he killed himself or if he was fatally shot by police. The victims were identified as Officer Samuel Jimenez, Dr. Tamara E. O’Neal and Dayna Less, who worked as a pharmaceutical assistant at the hospital, officials said Monday night. >> PHOTOS: Chicago Mercy Hospital shooting leaves 4 dead, including officer, gunman “This tears at the soul of our city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was visibly shaken, said at a press conference. “It’s the face and consequence of evil.” The shooting started in a parking lot outside the hospital after a “domestic dispute” between the gunman and O’Neal, who had broken off an engagement with the suspect in September, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Jackson. After shooting O’Neal, the gunman continued his rampage, running into the hospital and randomly shooting others in his path, Jackson said. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Nov. 20: Police identified the gunman Tuesday as Juan Lopez, 32, The Associated Press reported. Lopez was among the people who died in Monday’s attack, although police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the AP that it was not clear whether he shot himself or if he was fatally shot by officers. Update 10:05 p.m. EST Nov. 19: The Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty Monday during a hospital shooting rampage had been with the force less than two years, authorities said. Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, was a married father of three, who did not have to respond to the deadly shooting at Mercy Hospital, according to Police Superintendent Eddie Jackson, because it was out of his district, but he did and it cost him his life. “He was the real police. He wasn’t in it just for the paycheck,” an officer who worked with him told the Chicago Sun-Times. Update 9:10 p.m. EST Nov. 19: Chicago police have identified the officer who was shot and killed at Mercy Hospital Monday afternoon while responding to an active gunman. “It's with profound sadness that we share the death of PO Samuel Jimenez from tonight's senseless active shooter incident,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a social media post. Police also confirmed during a press conference Monday night that a doctor at Mercy Hospital and another employee were fatally shot. Update 8:45 p.m. EST Nov. 19: The Chicago police officer critically injured in a shooting at Mercy Hospital Monday afternoon has died, according to The Associated Press. The officer was shot while responding to an active gunman at the hospital. Update 8:05 p.m. EST Nov. 19: A doctor reporting to work Monday at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital was reportedly the first person shot in the parking lot before the gunman made his way inside. She has been identified by WLS-TV as Dr. Tamara E. O’Neal, a doctor of emergency medicine at Mercy, who was shot by her former fiance before he continued shooting inside the hospital. Update 7:55 p.m. EST Nov. 19: While one police officer was critically injured in a shooting Monday afternoon at Mercy Hospital, another is crediting his gun and holster for saving his life. The CPD officer showed TV station WLS his holster where a bullet smashed through the container, but did not penetrate, and his gun with a bullet embedded in it. Update 7:30 p.m. EST Nov. 19: Witness are recounting horrifying descriptions of the shooting Monday afternoon at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. James Gray told the Chicago Tribune that he was coming out of a clinic area at the hospital when he saw the gunman, who was dressed in a black hat and coat, walking and talking with a woman outside the hospital before shooting her three times in the chest. Gray then said the man stood over the woman and shot her three more times after she was on the ground. He told the Tribune that a police car came upon the scene and the gunman started shooting at officers. “It was chaos,” said Gray. “It was just mass chaos.” The gunman went inside the hospital and Gray said it looked like he was just randomly shooting at people. “And then I ran into the X-ray department and locked the door behind us,” he told the newspaper. “I thought it was unbelievable,” said Gray. “It’s like a movie scene. Nothing like that ever happened to me before.” Update 7:00 p.m. EST Nov. 19: Witnesses to the shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago describe a terrifying incident as a well-armed gunman opened fire, striking several people outside the hospital, including a police officer, before making his way inside the facility. “It scared everybody,” Steve White, a patient at the hospital, told WBBM-TV. White, who was being treated for dehydration, described a chaotic scene as people inside the hospital heard shots coming from the parking lot, before the gunman entered the facility through the main entrance, WBBM reported. “I have never seen nothing like this in my life,” White said. “This is crazy” Two of the victims were women, according to WLS-TV. One was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in extremely critical condition. The other was taken to the University of Chicago Hospital, also in extremely critical condition, the TV station reported. One of the women was a doctor at Mercy Hospital reporting to work when she was shot in the parking lot by her former fiancé. Update 6:30 p.m. EST Nov. 19: One of the shooting victims was a doctor reporting for her shift at work, according to WLS-TV, and was shot by her former fiance. Update 6:07 p.m. EST Nov. 19: The suspected gunman in the shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital was killed and four people were critically injured, according to the Associated Press, after the unidentified shooter opened fire Monday afternoon. Witness James Gray told Chicago television station WLS-TV that he saw multiple people shot. 'It looked like he was turning and shooting people at random,” Gray said. Update 6:05 p.m. EST Nov. 19: Witnesses described a terrifying ordeal after at least one gunman opened fire at  Chicago’s Mercy Hospital. Hospital employee Erix Horton told the Chicago Tribune that he was outside smoking a cigarette when he heard the shooting unfold. “I was checking out, getting ready to leave,” Horton said. “One of the nurses ran back here and it was like she was about to collapse and said (a staff member had) been shot. And she’s like, ‘Call the police. We have an active shooter.’ And that¹s when everybody took cover. They got on the PA, letting everybody know.' Horton told the Tribune he took cover in a break room with others until police rescued them. He said an emergency crew had just brought in a patient and had to take cover, too. He said he heard someone firing eight to nine shots in the hallway outside the break room. 'We had to duck,” he said. Employees at the hospital were eventually loaded on to buses and taken to safety. Update 5:45 p.m. EST Nov. 19: At least two people were killed in a shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital Monday afternoon, according to WLS-TV.  At least one witness told reporters there was more than one shooter at the hospital and that shots were fired into a lab at the facility. Update: 5:35 p.m. EST Nov. 19: Chicago police confirmed at least one shooter was shot. People at the hospital when the shooting unfolded described hearing multiple shots and hiding inside hospital rooms. Update 5:20 p.m. EST Nov. 19: The Chicago police officer shot during the shooting at Mercy Hospital is in critical condition, according to WLS-TV. It’s still unclear exactly how many other people were injured or killed. Original report: Authorities contained the shooter, according to a number of media outlets, and are now searching the hospital. There’s no report, yet, on how many victims may be involved. Roads around the medical center have been shutdown as the investigation continues. Emergency crews were called to the scene just before 3:30 p.m. Monday on “reports of multiple victims,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Hospital employees were evacuated in buses, WBBM reported.
  • A Chicago police officer, emergency room doctor and pharmacy technician were killed Monday afternoon when a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center on the city’s South Side, authorities said. >> Chicago Mercy Hospital Shooting: 4 dead, including police officer, gunman The gunman also was found dead, although it wasn’t immediately clear how he died, Chicago police said late Monday. >> PHOTOS: Chicago Mercy Hospital shooting leaves 4 dead, including officer, gunman Here's what we know about the victims: Dr. Tamara O'Neal Dr. Tamara O'Neal, 38, was the first person shot and killed in Monday's deadly rampage, which began as a 'domestic dispute' between the gunman and O'Neal in the hospital parking lot, authorities said. O'Neal, an emergency room doctor, broke off an engagement with the suspect in September, said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Jackson. Hospital officials said O'Neal, a two-year Mercy resident and 2016 University of Illinois College of Medicine grad, was deeply religious and loved going to her church, where she led the choir, according to the Chicago Tribune.  >> Read more trending news  'That was her one thing she wanted ... to be able to go to church on Sunday,' Emergency Department director Patrick Connor said at an emotional news conference. Some colleagues paid tribute to O'Neal on Twitter. 'I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life,' Dr. John Purakal wrote. 'Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer. Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO.' Officer Samuel Jimenez Chicago police Officer Samuel Jimenez, a married father of three, had been with the force less than two years before he was shot and killed in the Mercy Hospital lobby Monday, authorities said. Jimenez, 28, did not have to respond to the deadly shooting at Mercy Hospital because it was out of his district, but he did anyway, according to police Superintendent Eddie Jackson. “He was the real police. He wasn’t in it just for the paycheck,” an officer who worked with him told the Chicago Sun-Times. Sgt. Larry Snelling, who works at the Chicago police academy, remembered Jimenez as a 'stellar recruit' who was 'on top of his game,' according to the Chicago Tribune. 'He was one of the guys we didn’t have to worry about at all,' Snelling said. 'Just a great kid.' Dayna Less Dayna Less, 25, was shot and killed Monday as she exited an elevator at Mercy Hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune. The first-year pharmacy resident, who graduated from Purdue University earlier this year, had been working at the hospital since July, the newspaper reported. Less planned to leave Chicago for Indiana on Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with her family, WLS-TV reported. She was engaged to be married next summer, according to WTTV.
  • More than 54 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association. That’s the most since 2005. » RELATED: Atlanta traffic jams and road conditions Compared to last year, 2.5 million more people will be hitting the roads, skies, rails and waterways during the Thanksgiving holiday period, Wednesday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Nov. 25. Travelers in many of the typically congested cities can expect to spend four times longer on the roads during this period than they would normally spend, especially if traveling by road. » RELATED: Atlanta traffic among worst in the world, study finds Approximately 48.5 million people (nearly 5 percent more than last year) will be driving for their holiday travels. “Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at global mobility analytics company INRIX, said in the AAA announcement. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice to drivers is to avoid commuting times in major cities altogether or plan alternative routes.” With help from INRIX and Google analysts, we’ve compiled the best and worst times to hit the road in Atlanta. » RELATED: Metro Atlanta's 10 most consistently awful traffic hotspots Best and worst times to travel in and around Atlanta this Thanksgiving Best Departure According to Google, the best day to leave for the holiday is Thanksgiving Day at 6 a.m. Return Leaving around 6 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, should help you avoid the worst of Atlanta’s traffic, but there are, of course, no guarantees. » RELATED: Photos: Weird things that have snarled Atlanta traffic Worst Departure Google analysts recommend avoiding the roads around 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21.  But according to INRIX, the worst day to travel is Tuesday, Nov. 20, between 5-7 p.m. You can expect to spend 2.75x longer than you’d typically spend around this congested time, the company noted in the AAA announcement. INRIX also highlighted the worst hotspot in Atlanta: Between exit 216 to 227 on I-75. » RELATED: Record number of Thanksgiving travelers expected at Hartsfield-Jackson Return To avoid increased congestion after the holiday, consider leaving before or After Sunday. Google research shows 4 p.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is particularly troublesome for Atlanta traffic. Itching for more on Thankgiving traffic and search trends? Google has published a national guide at MappingThanksgiving.com. Researchers even examined categorical searches via Google Maps to determine when the most popular places tend to be most crowded. » RELATED: It’s not all about the turkey: 9 things you probably didn't know about Thanksgiving Here’s some more data on Atlanta: When to avoid... Bakeries: Midday Wednesday, Nov. 21 Grocery stores: Wednesday afternoon Liquor stores: Wednesday afternoon Movie theaters: Friday evening after Thanksgiving Shopping centers: Black Friday afternoon Explore more from Google Trends.
  • Three hours after plunging 84 floors, six people were freed from a broken elevator in the former John Hancock Center, WBBM reported. A hoist rope broke just after midnight Friday morning, sending the express elevator filled with guests from the 95th floor Signature Room, to the lobby. It finally stopped on the 11th floor. It stopped because several other hoist ropes remained connected and were able to bring the falling lift to a stop, WBBM reported. WLS reported that two hoist ropes broke and that the rescue took two hours. Now the elevator and two others are closed as crews repair the mechanics and investigators try to figure out what caused the rope to snap.  >> Read more trending news  “At the beginning I believed we were going to die,” Jaime Montemayor told WBBM. “We were going down and then I felt that we were falling down and then I heard a noise -- clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack.” No one was hurt, but some passengers said it took a while for security to call firefighters, WBBM reported. Once rescue crews arrived, they had to break a concrete wall in the garage area of the 11th floor, WLS reported.  The elevator was in what is called a “blind shaft” where firefighters didn’t have openings at each floor to get to the trapped riders, The Chicago Tribune reported. Fire crews drilled a small hole in the wall and used a small camera to look for the elevator to help zero in on the location, the Tribune reported. Once they broke through fully, crews shored up the elevator to make sure it didn’t fall further. Then they used a small ladder to help those trapped inside to get out, the Tribune reported. Visitors to the building after the accident had to use freight elevators to get to the top floors, WBBM reported.
  • The Senate's top Democrat asked the Justice Department's watchdog on Tuesday to open an investigation into communications between acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and the White House. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the Justice Department's inspector general to look into Whitaker's communications beginning in 2017, when Whitaker was appointed chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Whitaker was elevated to the top job after Sessions was ousted by President Donald Trump earlier this month. In a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Schumer, D-N.Y., said he wants inspector general's investigators to look into whether Whitaker had access to confidential grand jury information in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Schumer also wants investigators to examine whether Whitaker shared any information with Trump or others in the administration. John Lavinsky, a spokesman for the inspector general, declined to comment on Schumer's request. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the second-ranking Justice Department official, had been overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation until Whitaker's appointment on Nov. 7. Whitaker is now overseeing the investigation. Schumer and other Democrats have said they are concerned about Whitaker's past criticism of the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to Trump's campaign. 'I am also concerned that Mr. Whitaker, who has thus far declined to recuse himself from the Special Counsel investigation, may intend to interfere in or obstruct the investigation in other ways,' Schumer wrote. After Whitaker's appointment, Schumer called for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation and said he would seek to tie a measure protecting Mueller to must-pass legislation if he refuses to recuse himself. Whitaker's past public statements have included an op-ed article in which he said Mueller would be straying outside his mandate if he investigated Trump's family finances. In a talk radio interview he maintained there was no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. On Monday, three other Senate Democrats — Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — filed a lawsuit arguing that Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional because he has not been confirmed by the Senate. The Justice Department issued a statement Monday defending Whitaker's appointment as 'lawful' and said it comports with the Appointments Clause, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and legal precedent. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schumer's request on Tuesday. Trump has called Whitaker 'a highly respected former U.S. Attorney from Iowa' but also has said, 'I did not know Mr. Whitaker.
  • Employees of Facebook are investigating issues Tuesday morning that caused errors and delays for some as users reported outages to the social media platform. >> Read more trending news Users also reported outages on Instagram, the photo and video focused social media site also owned by Facebook. It was not immediately clear if the reported issues were related. Facebook officials said the company started investigating issues on the site around 5:30 a.m. EST. According to downdetector.com, a majority of U.S. users who reported issues with Facebook or Instagram on Tuesday morning were on the east coast. Users reported that pages that were slow to load or failed to load entirely, among other issues. Check back for updates to this developing story.