On Saturday, May 9, a man in the small suburb of Lantana, FL was driving to pick up dinner from Chili’s when he came across a peculiar site.
Standing before Joseph May, 23, was an employee wheeling out a vat of hot oil from inside the Burger King next door to the Chili’s. The employee proceeded to dump the used oil down a storm drain — blatantly violating the law in broad daylight.
May recorded video of the entire thing on his cellphone and uploaded it to YouTube shortly after. Since then, the video has been viewed more than 1.8 million times and has been shared more than 45,000 times on Facebook, the Miami Sun Sentinel reports.
“This gentleman right here, told by his manager at Burger King, to dump this oil into the sewer,” May can be heard saying in the video. “Is it all drained?”
He then zooms his phone’s camera in.
“All that nasty fry oil?” May says. “Yeah, look at that, its smoking, do you see that? All that went into the sewer right there, all of that going back into the ocean.”
The viral video captured the attention of Burger King’s top officials, who issued a statement responding to the video. The president of the local franchise that owns the Lantana location fired two employees in response to the video, one of whom was the general manager.
In addition to tree roots in sewer lines, congealed cooking oil is one of the top enemies of drains and sewer pipes nationwide. The oil and grease solidifies within the pipe, clinging to other debris and creating a clog that only professional plumbing contractors and drain repair professionals can fix. Currently, there are 386,000 plumbing contractors working across the country.
And despite the fact that foul drain odors in the home can be eliminated by pouring a cup of white vinegar down the drain and letting it stand for 30 minutes, there’s not much one can do to remove a grease clog without the help of a professional.
Dumping anything into storm drains is a violation of Palm Beach County law, whether it’s oil or leaves. When oil goes down a storm drain, it directly enters the local water systems. The average family uses 400 gallons of this water every day, and the oil can make it tough for fish to swim.
According to the Sun Sentinel, May says he has mixed feelings about the massive attention his video received. On one hand, he’s glad it has prompted Burger King to re-evaluate its oil recycling policies; on the other, he hopes the employee isn’t fired for simple following orders.
“I’m glad it got out, I’m glad everybody knows, but I hope this didn’t affect him too much,” he says.
Ultimately, one thing is clear — Palm Beach County’s storm drains will be needing the help of plumbing contractors to remove all that oil.
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