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Contamination issues at school being addressed
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Problems arising from contaminated stormwater runoff from a local poultry processor are close to being resolved, according to city officials.

Gold Creek Foods, located adjacent to Robinson Elementary School, was cited for allowing contaminated runoffto discharge directly into the stormwater system and onto school property, according to a letter dated Sept. 23, 2013, from Albert Langley, director of compliance with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to School Superintendent Keith Porter.

EPD sent a Notice of Violation on Aug. 2, 2013, to Gold Creek Foods outlining the concerns and requiring them to provide a plan of corrective action.

That violation caused a three-acre outdoor garden and classroom at the school to be closed.

The goal of the corrective measures, according to EPD, is to eliminate contact between poultry by-products and stormwater at the GCF property.

...All the work has been completed by Gold Creek with the exception of the (concrete) drip pad, Mayor James Grogan said during Mondays city council work session. They were going to pour today, but the weather being what is, its not going to happen (but) within the next day or two (it will).

Grogan said that Bill Ringle, environmental health manager with the Dawson County Health Department, would inspect the grounds at Robinson.

Reached by phone yesterday, Ringle confirmed he conducted an inspection.

I confirmed one of the (drainage) ditches across the property has had a pipe put in and the ditch is gone, he said. In my opinion, that section of temporary barrier can be taken down. I also recommended that a second barrier near the covered classroom area be left in place until they (Gold Creek Foods) complete pouring the concrete pad to catch waste that drips off trucks.

Once the concrete pad is complete and the EPD is satisified, Ringle said, all barriers can come down.

Council member Angie Smith, who has two children at Robinson Elementary, wanted more assurance.

What happens going forward? she asked. Will soil testing be done periodically?

Grogan said it would be.

Yes, well probably send somebody down to soil-test over the next six months or so, maybe a couple times, he said. You could have a leaky pipe anything could happen. I dont suspect well have anything.

Previous soil samples that showed high levels of fecal coliform on the school grounds were conducted by Environmental Management Services in Tate, Ga.

Smith, reached by phone after the meeting, expressed frustration with the process.

Its been seven months since this started, she said. Its time to get it fixed.

In September, Gold Creek Foods retained the services of Mill Creek Environmental, which proposed the following corrective action:

Facility procedures will be modified so that used cardboard containers will be no longer be transported through areas where drips and leaks of red water from the cardboard might come into contact with stormwater. Drips and leaks of red water from the compactor will be routed through underground piping to the wastewater pretreatment system at the facility;

A roof will be constructed over the cardboard storage area to eliminate contact between stormwater and used cardboard that has been in contact with red water or poultry by-products;

A roof will be constructed over the loading dock area to eliminate contact between stormwater and red water that leaks or drips from truck trailers; and an additional concrete drip pad will be constructed in the gravel parking area ... to contain drips and leaks of red water from truck trailers. Red water and stormwater from the drip pad will be routed through underground piping to the wastewater pretreatment system at the facility.

Red water, according to Langley, is the primary problem.

When the trucks are opened and unloaded, you get a lot of water runoff, he said earlier. But that water is also mixed with blood and other stuff with high biological content.

Other improvements include berms around potential source areas to route potentially contaminated stormwater and wash-water into the wastewater treatment plant and the construction of a stormwater detention pond to reduce the amount of runoff from the facility during high-frequency rainfall events.

School Superintendent Porter recently spoke with Jake Irwin at Mill Creek Environmental.

We have been informed by Mill Creek Environmental that significant progress is being made, Porter said. Additionally, we have been informed that a fence is being developed on the Gold Creek property which will serve as a physical barrier to reduce noise and visual contact between the two properties.

Porter also noted that Gold Creek committed funds to replace damaged landscape at the school.

Mayor Grogan confirmed Monday that Gold Creek committed $7,800 toward landscaping at the school.

We are hopeful that we will receive clearance in the near future from the governmental agencies to allow our students access to this part of the playground area, as well as access to the outdoor classroom, Porter said. Our students safety is paramount to any decisions that we will make going forward.