NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Abbey Chiavario looked across the sea of plastic bags, blanketing the trees like leaves, and sighed.

“I’m exhausted,” she admitted with a weary laugh.

Living near Whitsett Park, she organized a small cleanup crew to start attacking the miles of industrial waste and trash that start at the ground and reach all the way into the trees.

While they made some headway, the thought of cleaning up all the waste is daunting.

“Equal parts heartbreaking and rage. I’ve just been so angry. Because all of this is single use plastic,” Chiavario said.

There is no question where the trash came from, as the rain Saturday prompted Mill Creek to flood and break from its banks, swamping the park and greenspace.

But neighbors do question: where did all this specific industrial waste come from?

“That didn’t just come from regular trash. That didn’t just come from regular flood,” said Sarah Baer, who joined the cleanup.

The trash, after all, was specific: white and black trash bags, Styrofoam cups still in containers and plastic gloves.

News4 Investigates traveled upstream of the creek, finding the trash covered the banks for miles.

Upstream of the park, Briley Parkway crosses over the creek, and the debris was still visible.

However, when Harding Pike crosses over further upstream, we saw no indication of trash.

An industrial park stands on the shores of the creek just off 1-24 and downstream from Harding Pike, full of warehouses that appeared to have been flooded, but there was no indication of the trash coming from a specific location.

Sonia Harvat, spokeswoman for metro water, said that because a neighbor filed a complaint with codes, that city department is now investigating to determine the source.

Eric Ward, spokesman for the department of environment and conservation, said they are aware of the trash and are exploring state and federal funds that may assit in the cleanup.

A community cleanup effort is being organized for this weekend, and News4 will keep you posted if you’d like to help. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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