State investigating source of mystery suds in St. Peters

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ST. PETERS, MO (KTVI) - State investigators have been called in after a Fox 2 report on a mystery in St. Peters.

Heaps of foam have been appearing in a creek and along a highway.

Authorities are now digging for answers.

Authorities still believe that foam is essentially soap suds.  But there's been a lot of it.  The Missouri  DNR -- Department of Natural Resources is now investigating.

There is an active "dig" at the suspected source.

“Actually, there has not been any foam discharge since that day (of the FOX 2 report, Jan. 15th),” said Lisa Bedian, Communications Director for the City of St. Peters.  “They’ve been looking to find the source of where there is a leak.  They haven’t been able to find one yet.”

When the bubbles were back two Fridays ago, washing out of a storm water culvert on Salt River Road near Highway 79, it brought back memories for residents of massive foam formations from days and years past.

Residents say the foam has been as high as passing cars or even higher.

“They’ve had to stop traffic because it was rolling across the road and they couldn’t see to drive – and taller than you,” long-time resident Pat Kumer said.

Authorities believe the Reckitt Benckiser plant, which produces cleaners like Woolite and Resolve, is the source of the suds.

Workers are now digging behind the plant to see if some sort of leak is causing the problem.

“In fact, they stopped rail deliveries of products to their site because they wanted to make sure, there’s a coupling area, that there was nothing going on there.  They have a contractor in digging up the soil to see if there was any evidence of a leak there,” Bedian said.

Investigators do not believe everyday runoff is causing the occasional foam banks near the few homes downhill and across the road from the plant.

DNR investigators have ruled it wasn’t toxic, though they haven’t determined exactly what it was, Bedian said.

“We aren’t 100% positive.  But we’re looking into it and getting the state DNR officials involved, too, I think the company is making a good faith effort and the assumption is, is that it’s some kind of soap product,” Bedian said.

Though residents were obviously concerned, none had ever called to report the foam, Bedian said.

St. Peters has a 24-hour hot-line for residents to report problems:  636-477-6600.