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School contamination issue resolved
FA6V Gold creek NEW pic
Gold Creek

Issues with contaminated stormwater runoff from Gold Creek Foods, a problem that resulted in closing a nearby elementary schools outdoor garden, have been resolved, according to officials with Georgias Environmental Protection Division and Gold Creek Foods.

We toured the Gold Creek Foods site and found them to have met all of our recommendations, Stacey Wix, industrial team manager with EPD, said.

Problems at the chicken processing plant were reported Aug. 2, 2013, when Gold Creek Foods received a notice of violation from EPD for failing to properly contain stormwater runoff from an area where its trucks are unloaded.

The same day, officials with the Dawson County Environmental Health Department advised Robinson Elementary School to close access to a three-acre outdoor garden classroom next to Gold Creek Foods.

At the time, stormwater from the plant ran above ground across the schools property, and the gardens perimeter was closed off with orange fencing.

Michael Sheets, vice president of business development at the plant said Gold Creek has met EPDs recommendations.

Gold Creek met with EPD and Mill Creek Environmental on Wednesday, May 7, and toured the entire property, Sheets said. EPD reported no concerns and all EPD recommendations were completed.

Officials at Gold Creek Foods hired Dawsonville-based Mill Creek Environmental to advise them on meeting EPDs requirements.

Those requirements included installing a second drip pad to catch runoff from melting ice that the EPD said contained blood and other stuff with high biological content.

The new drip pad is installed, they have a new employee to manage their trucks, and they bought a yard dog, Dan Centofantii, president of Mill Creek Enviromental, said.

According to Centofanti, a yard dog is a truck used to move truck trailers around Gold Creeks property.

The original problem was that trucks would come in and park at night and on weekends to unload, and some of the drips coming off the trucks landed in the parking lot, he said. Rain flushed that into the parking lot which ran into a ditch across the school property.

Soil samples paid for by the City of Dawsonville at the time showed high levels of fecal coliform.

Mill Creek Environmental on Monday said it plans to take soil samples from multiple locations at Robinson Elementary.

We expect to have the results early next week, Centofanti said.

Parents at the school and their PTO raised more than $28,000 over a two-year period to build the outdoor garden and to have donors names etched in bricks for a pathway. The bricks remain stacked and unused near the garden area.

Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter said he is glad the matters have been resolved.

We are looking forward to receiving the results of the soil samples, he said. We will be constructing a fence along the property line during the summer, and RES has lots of work that they would like to complete to make the area very special for their students. We are hopeful that the solutions which have been completed will be effective in the future even during times of heavy rain. It is a beautiful area, and we look forward to our students having complete access.