Why a Train Full of New York City Poop Was Stranded in Alabama for Two Months

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iStock

Residents of Parrish, Alabama probably aren't too fond of New Yorkers right now. That’s because the town is currently home to a full trainload of poop courtesy of the Big Apple, as Bloomberg reports. Some 200 shipping containers of treated sewage have been stuck in Parrish for more than two months while the town takes landfill operators to court.

New York City doesn't keep its own sewage sludge to itself, and it hasn't for decades. In the 1980s, New York City was dumping its "biosolids"—the solids left over from sewage treatment, i.e., your poop—into the Atlantic Ocean, where it settled on the bottom of the sea floor in a thick film stretching over 80 square nautical miles. When the government banned the practice of dumping waste straight into the ocean, the city had to get creative, finding a way to get rid of the 1200 tons of biosolids produced there every day.

Enter the poop train. As a 2013 Radiolab episode taught us (we highly recommend you listen for yourself), treated sludge was eventually shipped out to other states to use as fertilizer in the 1990s. After farmers in Colorado began noticing better growth and fewer pests in the fields they grew with New York City's finest sewer sludge, growers in other states began clamoring to take the big-city poop by the train-full, too. That tide has turned, though, and now no one wants the city's poop. Because of the cost of running the program, the train to Colorado stopped in 2010.

Now, biosolids are instead shipped to landfills upstate and in places like Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, according to The Wall Street Journal. And Alabama. For more than a year, the Big Sky landfill near Parrish has been accepting New York City biosolids, and the locals who have to deal with trainloads of rotting waste aren’t happy.

Normally, the sludge would be loaded onto trucks and then driven the last stretch to get to the landfill. But Parrish and its nearby neighbor of West Jefferson aren't interested in playing host to those messy poop transfers anymore. As the two towns take the landfill operators to court over it, the trains are stuck where they are, next to Parrish's Little League baseball fields. The trainload of sludge is blocked from either being sent to the landfill or back to New York City. While the city has stopped shipping more waste to Big Sky, it essentially said "no takebacks" regarding what they've already sent south. Short of a legal decision, that poop isn't moving.

Needless to say, the residents of Parrish would really, really like to resolve this before summer hits.

Update: Parrish residents can officially breathe easy. The last of the sludge has now been removed from the town, and Big Sky has ended its operation there, according to a Facebook post from Mayor Heather Hall. The containers that remain have been emptied of their smelly cargo and will be removed sometime before Friday, April 20.

[h/t Bloomberg]

South Carolina Coroner Swears Local Dairy Queen Burgers Are Not Made of Human Flesh

Ocskaymark/iStock via Getty Images
Ocskaymark/iStock via Getty Images

Summer may be cooling down, but America's fast food wars are just heating up. While Popeyes and Chick-fil-A continue to debate who sells the best chicken sandwich (editor's note: let's not leave Publix's chicken tender sub out of the mix), a Dairy Queen in Greenwood, South Carolina, has been forced to fight back against a slate of recent claims that their burgers are made of ... people. Just how did these rumors get started? It's complicated.

Complex reports that last week, the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and state law enforcement officials raided several businesses in South Carolina's Greenwood, Abbeville, and Orangeburg counties—the Greenwood Dairy Queen being one of them. The officials were acting on a complaint that two men were operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and they did reportedly find $200,000 in an unlocked safe at the Greenwood DQ. Though the name of that DQ's manager, Saif Momin, came up in the initial investigation into the financial crime, authorities have made it clear that Momin has not been charged with any crime, nor were any of his 18 employees in any way connected to the raid. But none of that is the strange part of this story.

In the wake of the raids, dozens of rumors began flying about what the FBI was looking into at the local ice cream franchise. That's when a corporate inspector informed Momin that, in what appears to be a separate incident, someone had lodged a complaint about “human meat being inside a burger” at the same DQ. It didn't take long for social media to catch on, and use Twitter as a platform for confirming whether or not there was a Soylent Green-like situation happening.

Even after Dairy Queen confirmed that their burgers are 100 percent beef and zero percent human being, the matter wasn't quite over. The continued public outcry led the Index-Journal, a local news outlet, to enlist the expertise of Greenwood County coroner Sonny Cox, who seemed taken aback by the question itself.

"I promise you, I’ve never had anything of that nature asked of me," Cox said. "I’ve never suspected anything like that. I can honestly say that’s the first I’ve heard of it, and I don’t see any validity in that at all. There’s little to no chance of anything like that ever being able to happen."

Momin echoed Cox's statement, telling the Index-Journal: "If that was the case, they already would have shut me down."

In November 2018, the Department of Health and Environmental Control gave Momin's store an A grade and a score of 97 percent. So it seems highly unlikely that your FlameThrower GrillBurger has any ground human meat in it—though it's certainly not the first time fast food burgers have undergone a thorough analysis.

Cannibalism accusations aside, one positive thing to come from this story is a reminder of the importance of local journalism.

‘Water’ in Kansas City Woman’s Ear Turned Out to Be a Venomous Brown Recluse Spider

N-sky/iStock via Getty Images
N-sky/iStock via Getty Images

Susie Torres, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, woke up on Tuesday morning with the distinct feeling that water was lodged in her left ear. She likened it to the swooshing sensation that can often happen after swimming, WDAF-TV reports.

Instead of waiting for the problem to resolve itself, Torres went to the doctor—a decision that might have saved her from some serious pain. The medical assistant was the first to realize something was alarmingly amiss, and immediately called for backup.

“She ran out and said ‘I’m going to get a couple more people,’” Torres told 41 Action News. “She then said, ‘I think you have an insect in there.’” For many people, the thought of having any live insect stuck in an ear would be enough to cue a small- or large-scale freak-out, but Torres stayed calm.

The doctors “had a few tools and worked their magic and got it out,” Torres said. The “it” in question turned out to be a spider—and not just any harmless house spider (which you shouldn’t kill, by the way). It was a venomous brown recluse spider.

“Gross,” Torres told WDAF-TV. “Why, where, what, and how.”

Miraculously, the spider didn’t bite Torres. If it had, she would’ve ended up visiting the doctor with more than general ear discomfort: Brown recluse bites can cause pain, burning, fever, nausea, and purple or blue discoloration of the surrounding skin, according to Healthline.

Torres may have remained admirably level-headed throughout the ordeal, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it lightly. “I went and put some cotton balls in my ears last night,” she told WDAF-TV. “I’m shaking off my clothes, and I don’t put my purse on the floor. I’m a little more cautious.”

Is this the first time an insect has posted up in the ear of an unsuspecting, innocent human? Absolutely not—here are six more horror stories, featuring a cockroach, a bed bug, and more.

[h/t WDAF-TV]

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