Columbus, Ga- A local grocery store specializing in Asian cuisine and seafood is swimming in controversy after an employee allegedly dumped hundreds of pounds of dead blue crabs and shrimp into the Chattahoochee River.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, all signs led to S Mart Grocery. Now a male employee has been implicated in the dumping, which has caused a decline in business for the owner and possible felony charges.
A complaint by a local resident that prompted the Department of Natural Resources to visit S Mart Grocery after discovering hundreds of blue crabs and shrimp in the Chattahoochee River-led officers straight to the culprit, says Cpl. Mitchell Oliver.
“While we were there performing those inspections, a gentleman pulled up outside and some of our officers that were out there looking at something else did get a chance to talk to him,” says Oliver. “And that individual did admit to having been the subject that dumped blue crabs and shrimp into the river, not once but twice.”
An action that the employee told officers he was instructed to perform at the request of S Mart owner Steven Bui, which Bui strongly denies. Bui denied News 3’s request to appear on camera but did agree to provide an audio statement.
“They go big ol’ trash can right there. Why do I have to ask him to go all the way down to the river to dump it? Go down there and record the trash can in the back right there,” says Bui.
Two trash cans in the back of the store that Bui says he directs employees to use and would have accommodated the dead seafood. Now the commercial dumping may lead to felony charges in addition to corrective action for other violations.
“There’s multiple charges pending between the felony dumping cases, plus the license and permit violations,” says Oliver. “So all of that will be talked over with the local DA’s office before any formal charges are filed.”
With possible charges pending, Bui says his business has suffered as a result of the incident.
“We’re losing a lot of customers, they all think I’m a bad people,” says Bui. “I have to swallow it because I can’t do anything right now.”
Bui tells News 3 that the man responsible for the dumping is “a good employee and person who made a mistake.” He also says the man is still employed at S Mart and that he is not responsible for his employees actions. Bui says he has no intention of terminating the employee.