SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A group of neighbors are in a messy situation, literally, after part of a construction vehicle malfunctioned Tuesday on a job site, shooting poisonous fluid into the air, sending it raining down across personal property.  

“Can you imagine somebody coming along and poisoning it all when you’re not home?” 

Deborah Longo is at a loss for words as she looks out upon her backyard, beloved garden, and practically all of her property in the valley – just after it was drenched in hydraulic fluid, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Ecology, is poisonous to humans and animals.  

“It’s just a disaster,” Longo said. 

On Tuesday afternoon, an Avista witness said she saw hydraulic fluid shoot about 30 feet into the air, then watched it dump down across Longo’s condo and her neighbors, as well as Avista employees working nearby.  

Longo was not home at the time, but later in the evening she said an employee for the construction company responsible, Whitewater Creek Inc., said a seal broke on one of their vehicles, which led to the accident.  

Hydraulic fluid is a refined oil product, something you never want to ingest. The Department of Ecology confirmed that the fluid will kill almost all of the vegetation that got hit by the wave of sprayed fluid – including all of Longo’s fresh fruits and vegetables in her garden. 

"I am so bummed about the plants, I can’t believe we’re going to go a whole summer without fresh vegetables, no peppers no tomatoes,” Longo said. “Everything is going to die.” 

Another crucial point, Longo and her neighbors are encouraged to stay inside as much as they can to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes, and to keep their animals off the grass.  

Many of them have big dogs, who are stuck inside the small condos.  

“We don’t have anywhere we can take them,” Longo said.  

While a state contracted cleanup company is power washing the siding of the condos to remove the toxic fluid, Longo was informed that her lawn will need to be completely uprooted. On Wednesday, Able Clean-Up Technologies was on scene ripping out her garden to begin the environmental cleanup process. 

The hydraulic fluid itself is yellow, oily, and slippery. And, possibly deadly.  

“It got us really super good,” Longo said.  

The CDC said if large amounts of certain types of the fluid are ingested, it could cause death in humans and nerve damage in animals. Longo’s cat was covered in fluid on Tuesday – so far, she is doing ok.  

“I can honestly say we are stunned, all of us here are stunned,” Longo said.  

Longo said the owner of the construction company has not been helpful and has avoided showing any remorse for the accident. As for compensation for the damage, we are working to confirm information on that matter.  

“We want to know when we can expect to have full use of our yards again,” Longo said. 

We have reached out to Whitewater Creek Inc. but have not heard back.

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