Voice-mail message appears to threaten water supply
June 12, 2003
A misinterpreted voice-mail message caused a stir Wednesday morning when officials thought someone was intending to pour toxic waste into Carson City’s water supply.
The message, left by a Carson City man on an Occupational Safety and Health Administration employee’s voice mail, was instead an attempt to “blow the whistle” on a Carson City business’ practice of dumping toxic waste into the sewer, said Sgt. Bob White of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department.
White declined to name the caller or the business.
“It was a misunderstanding,” he said. “We’ve turned the complaint over to the Carson City Water Department.”
White said the caller was traced, and he then explained what his message meant.
Before the explanation, OSHA notified the Carson City Utilities Department, which in turn called the Health Department, said Daren Winkelman, health director.
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“We had a couple of tense moments there,” he said.
Winkelman said although the threat proved to be unfounded, it gave his office the opportunity test its procedures.
“We immediately put people out on our water locations to double check if there (was a breach) in security. Nothing was tampered with,” he said. “In that sense, it was good just to test our system.”
Sheriff Kenny Furlong said his department will no longer be involved in an investigation. The information on the alleged polluting will be investigated.
“Our security systems in Carson City work,” he said. “When an event happens, we can immediately determine whether or not there is a threat to the public. It’s a taxpayer’s dream.”