OREM, Utah – The person dumping an unknown substance into the Orem sewer system, nicknamed the Phantom Dumper, is still out there, and they’re causing the city $4,000 each week in clean- up.
Orem Water Reclamation Manager Lawrence Burton said the substance gathers up to an inch on top of the 80 million gallons of water they receive every day.
“It can take us three or four hours to clear it off or up to two days,” Burton said. He also said it’s not toxic, but it’s a nuisance because it gets stuck in their pumps.
Burton said workers first found the material at their Headworks building and took it in for testing. He sent multiple samples to different labs, including Brigham Young University’s soil lab. The results have been inconclusive, with some tests believing it’s a mushed up paper substance and others saying it’s a type of paint material.
The sludge only appears in the morning and on weekdays, which leads Burton to speculate that it’s a business. The amounts come in such large quantities that Burton believes the Phantom Dumper is unloading material in a secluded manhole somewhere in Orem.
Orem Mayor Richard Brunst said he will pay big bucks for an accurate lead.
“We are (going to) offer a $2,500 reward for anyone who brings information and a conviction of the person who is doing this dumping,” he said in a video to the public.
Brunst also said that the Phantom Dumper is committing a crime.
“This is actually a Class B misdemeanor, finable by a thousand dollars a day,” he said.
But Burton said he just wants the dumping to stop.
“If somebody would come to us and say ‘Wow, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was doing that, I won’t do it again,’ we would give them a hug and say ‘Thank you,’” Burton said.
The mayor has asked anyone who sees the Phantom Dumper to report him or her to the city.