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A Coca-Cola plant in Massachusetts leaked ‘juice waste’ into the Connecticut River

The liquid was reportedly observed to have "a yellow color" and "a strong sweet, ripe odor."

Bottles of Coca-Cola are on display at a Haverhill supermarket. Elise Amendola / AP

Coca-Cola’s bottling plant in Northampton has been cited by officials in the Massachusetts city for spilling untold gallons of “juice waste” into the Connecticut River for at least several weeks earlier this year.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported Wednesday night that the Northampton Department of Public Works issued the company two wastewater violation notices after state construction crew discovered white foam flowing from the plant out of a drainpipe north of the Norwottuck Rail Trail Bridge on March 19.

Coca-Cola reportedly fixed the leak 22 days later and was able to avoid any fines. The multinational drink manufacturer blamed the leak on an underground cast iron pipe coupling that had corroded.

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In an email to the Environmental Protection Agency, Northampton DPW Director Donna LaScaleia reportedly described the substance leaking into the river as “juice waste.”

“The liquid flowing from Coca Cola North America was observed to have a yellow color, had a strong sweet, ripe odor and produced a white foam when shaken,” the violation notices read, according to The Daily Gazette.

Noting that algae growth in the area indicated that the discharge had “been occurring for an extended period of time,” the notice also said that the leak was estimated to be 8.3 gallons of discharge per minute on April 7.

“Immediately after learning about the issue from the city, we took steps at the Northampton plant to identify the cause and implement corrective actions,” Coca Cola said in a statement.

The company announced earlier this month that it plans to close the 470,000-square-foot Northampton plant, which bottles non-carbonated drinks, including Minute Maid, Vitaminwater, Powerade, and Honest Tea, in 2023.

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