Yummy yum yum at Krispy Kreme doughnuts

by on May 30, 2009 at 6:47 am in Food and Drink, Law | Permalink

Since I live in a county dedicated to the rule of law, I was not surprised to read this:

You know Krispy Kreme doughnuts are bad for your arteries. But the
delectable sugar-bombs are apparently lousy for sewer pipes as well,
according to Fairfax County.

In a lawsuit filed this month against the company, the county says
that doughnut grease and other waste from a plant in Lorton have
clogged up the county's sewage system, causing $2 million in damage.
The county is seeking to recoup the cost of the repairs and another $17
million in civil penalties.

The problems began in 2004, shortly after the plant opened, when the
county's public works inspectors began noticing "deposits of doughnut
grease and slime emanating from Krispy Kreme's doughnut production
plant," according to the suit, which was first reported by the
Examiner.

The muck got so bad that a nearby pumping station began reeking of
doughnuts, and a camera inserted into one of the pipes "got stuck in
the grease, preventing inspection of the remainder of the line,"
according to the suit.

One of these days, maybe when the economic crisis is over, I will spend a week blogging Fairfax County rather than the nation at large.

Diversity May 30, 2009 at 7:06 am

A question: How much did the state, city or county give Krispy Kreme to bring the factory to Fairfax?

A suggestion: For proven environmnal damage (including to sewers,etc.)a simple system of compensation of, say, 3 times proven damage done? Should be enough to deter almost all serious polluters; and would at least halve legal costs.

ck May 30, 2009 at 9:22 am

Is it me, or is $17 million in civil penalties a grossly disproportionate sum?

A more difficult and interesting question: what would an appropriate amount be and how would you fairly determine the fine?

Law and economics nerds, please help!

Peter May 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

ck,

Well, this is an administrative fine, but the best system for determining an amount owed for damages would be a civil suit. The suit looks at two factors, compensatory damages (i.e. stuff you broke) and punitive damages (how much to fine you above and beyond to make sure you don’t do it again).

So, you start at exactly how much stuff they broke, and how much it will cost to fix. They obviously have to pay that. If it involves ripping up large amounts of sewer, well, that could be really expensive.

Then you see if this is a particularly egregious case. It appears not to be. Bad, but not like cancer-causing or ignoring 20 warnings bad. So no punitive damages would probably be awarded.

Jodi Beggs May 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

Everyone else seems to be stuck on the numbers. I am stuck on the possibility of what KK doughnuts can do to my body if that is what their by-products do to sewer pipes. I think that’s a much more helpful “nudge” than any sort of visible calorie count could ever be. :)

Glen Raphael May 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

221 Krispy Kreme outlets in the US and *only Fairfax* has this problem? I’m suspicious that the local sewer system just isn’t up to snuff. Maybe it was poorly designed, maybe the pipes aren’t big enough, maybe a contractor somewhere skimped on materials…

flo May 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

@glen raphael: outlets != factory, which is a important distinction i think ^^

Protector May 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Tyler:
Every KK should have a grease trap to protect public systems. This is standard operating procedure for us, and we operate 11 Krispy Kreme shops. In fact, there are post-doughnut uses for the oil that make collection economic. So this story sounds odd.

As an investigative type, you might follow this up by getting a window seat at your nearest Krispy Kreme on the day the grease trap truck pulls up. Watch carefully as the driver attaches his giant grease vacuum and neatly removes every ounce of oil, sugar and dough, and ask the driver where he empties his haul. It isn’t in your nearby sewer.

Fairfax County may have investigators checking out the same thing. What is in their pipes may not be a nuisance, but, in fact, a new source of revenue. It will fuel their trucks, heat their offices, fry their potatoes; who knows where the potential uses lead? Tell them to stop whining and get creative.

Regards.

Yancey Ward May 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm

sourcreamus,

True, but I find it nearly impossible to believe any smell could actually overwhelm the normal smell of a sewage facility.

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