Officials at Deer Park Water are investigating claims that some of their water cooler containers were used to handle an airplane toilet cleaner and then returned to the company to be refilled with drinking water and redistributed to the public.
The investigation is related to a lawsuit from American Airline workers at Philadelphia International Airport. The workers claim in the suit that they were told to use empty Deer Park water jugs to transport a toilet deodorant containing the chemical bromo nitropropane.
“Putting blue deodorant into a water bottle which is owned by Deer Park and bringing it upstairs on Boeing 757’s to flush it and pour it into the toilet,” said Trandom Millsip, a Fleet Service Agent Supervisor for American Airlines.
Millsip told NBC10 a hose is normally connected to the bottom of the plane and the chemical is pumped from a tanker truck. Millsip claims the intake devices on some of the 757’s were broken however and management ordered workers to carry the chemical onto the planes using the Deer Park jugs instead. Millsip told NBC10’s Harry Hairston he’s concerned about possible exposure to the chemical.
“How many bottles are you using?” Hairston asked.
“At least eight to nine a day if not more,” Millsip replied.
Millsip and four other American Airlines workers filed a lawsuit against American Airlines in September.
“The practice of poisoning Deer Park/Nestle five gallon jugs was created all so that American Airlines did not have to spend money fixing broken valves and other parts,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims the practice of using the Deer Park jugs to carry the chemical is “threatening the public health and welfare.”
“You constantly smell it,” Millsip said. “It’s constantly in your nose. It gives you a headache.”
Millsip told NBC10 the jugs came from the employee break room. He also claims the airport workers did not clean the bottles after they poured the chemicals out and that they returned them to the break room to be picked up for reuse by Deer Park.
The chemical bromo nitropropane can cause eye, skin and lung irritation, according to doctors who spoke with NBC10. Along with blue toilet deodorant, the chemical is also found in some cosmetic products.
NBC10 reached out to American Airlines for a comment on the lawsuit’s allegations. The company told NBC10 they were taking the allegations seriously and “will fully investigate these latest accusations.”
“We have agreed to suspend our water delivery service while we investigate,” the statement says.
Harry Hairston showed Millsip’s photos of the chemical inside the water jugs to Deer Park’s Quality Control Manager Bill Bradley and asked if any of the bottles could have made it to new customers.
“I’ve never seen that bottle return here,” Bradley said. “But I have confidence that if it did it would never make it through this process.”
Deer Park officials told NBC10 they tested their inspection and cleaning system once they learned about the allegations.
“We purchased some of the same material, the same blue liquid. We made those solutions up, even up to 10 times stronger, put them in our bottles in a test environment,” Bradley said.
Bradley told NBC10 there was no trace of the chemical left in the bottles. Deer Park officials declined to show us their testing process on-camera citing security reasons.
“Are you still investigating the allegations?” Harry Hairston asked.
“I can’t comment,” Bradley replied. “I mean, yes of course we’re investigating. There is still more to learn.”
Airline workers told NBC10 they are still currently filling toilets the same way though American Airlines now has them using different plastic jugs.