State probes Jefferson County kaolin spill

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A kaolin spill caused by a broken pipeline in Jefferson County is under investigation by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.

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Reedy Creek flowed milky white after a weekend spill in which a 12-inch kaolin pipe ruptured.  Sam Booher/Special
Sam Booher/Special
Reedy Creek flowed milky white after a weekend spill in which a 12-inch kaolin pipe ruptured.

The spill, which allowed the milky liquid to flow from the ruptured 12-inch pipe into Reedy Creek near Wrens was reported by residents of the area around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release from the Savannah Riverkeeper environmental group.

Repairs were already under way to stop the leak and repair the pipe. The spill site is believed to be near the Georgia Highway 17 bridge.

Frank Carl, the organization’s science adviser, estimated several tons of the kaolin slurry leaked into the creek, which later flows into a larger stream, Brier Creek.

Impacts from the spill are unknown.

The 7.5-mile pipeline belongs to KaMin LLC with its Georgia offices in Macon, according to vice president Doug Carter.

"It appears at this time the pipeline failed near the Highway 17 bridge and ran downhill into Reedy Creek," Carter said. "At the time of the pipe failure we notified EPD of the spill and together with the DNR and EPD have developed a monitoring plan for the creek from our plant south to Keysville."

Since then, company officials have remained in contact with those agencies. "Based on our monitoring the pH of the creek has not been affected.  The pipeline that has failed has been taken out of service until the cause of the failure can be determined."

Last October, a widespread fish kill along more than 18 miles of Brier Creek claimed about 12,000 fish. Although the cause is suspected to be linked to kaolin facilities in that area, state regulators have not taken any enforcement actions.

Comments (23) Add comment
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Sweet son
10549
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Sweet son 01/02/12 - 04:50 pm
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Already cleaning it up!

Already cleaning it up!

southern2
6264
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southern2 01/02/12 - 08:11 pm
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We are left to wonder if this

We are left to wonder if this latest spill is connected to the October disaster. If so, the inaction by the Ga EPD should bear partial responsibility.

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/02/12 - 09:27 pm
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That's a pretty picture!

That's a pretty picture!

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/02/12 - 09:30 pm
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Southern2 wrote: . . . the Ga

Southern2 wrote:

. . . the Ga EPD should bear partial responsibility.

What do you mean by “responsibility”? What can you do — fine the EPD? A lot of good that will do.

southern2
6264
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southern2 01/02/12 - 10:43 pm
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Little Lamb...I would start

Little Lamb...I would start firing from the top down then evaluate the effectiveness of the agency for possible elimination.

Bruno
780
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Bruno 01/02/12 - 10:57 pm
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Kaolin is a naturally

Kaolin is a naturally occurring clay. Why would you fire someone for a spillage of dirt?

Dixieman
15310
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Dixieman 01/02/12 - 11:08 pm
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Bruno - Yeah, that's what I

Bruno - Yeah, that's what I thought too. Kaolin is just clay.

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/02/12 - 11:18 pm
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This story was posted at 2:31

This story was posted at 2:31 p.m. on Jan. 2; hence it was "breaking news." I do hope that the Chronicle will update it before tomorrow's print edition and tell us who actually owns and is repairing the leaking pipe! It can't be too hard to identify the company.

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/02/12 - 11:22 pm
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The city of Augusta permitted

The city of Augusta permitted a real estate developer to bulldoze and fill in a creek just as big as Reedy to make the Costco parking lot about three or four years ago, thus destroying and obliterating the creek. It can't be a big deal to spill some natural clay into Reedy Creek.

itsanotherday
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itsanotherday 01/02/12 - 11:33 pm
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Is any kind of chemical used
Unpublished

Is any kind of chemical used in the slurry? I should know since I grew up in the Kaolin Capitol, but I don't.

burninater
9627
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burninater 01/03/12 - 12:00 am
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Just because something occurs

Just because something occurs naturally doesn't mean it's not a problem when you release large amounts of it all at once. In streams, a lot of sediment like this will do a number on fish. Plus, if you fill up a creek bed with clay the water you displaced has to go somewhere else, and you open yourself up to a load of liability if that water impacts roads or buildings.

southern2
6264
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southern2 01/03/12 - 12:30 am
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Bruno Can you spell "fish

Bruno
Can you spell "fish kill" and "water pollution?" Waterways might be something good for the EPD to protect. Although kaolin is just clay, is it natural for it to fill streams and creeks? This is a man-made disaster and people are being paid to be accountable. Let's make sure all relevant parties are held that way.

albertoli
189
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albertoli 01/03/12 - 02:39 am
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Kaolin. Clay. Geology.

Kaolin. Clay. Geology. Thousands of years. School. Learning. Some people don't get it because they were in detention or skipping class. Now, laws, manmade environmental disasters. Responsibility.

Bruno
780
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Bruno 01/03/12 - 09:57 am
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Actually, Southern2, there

Actually, Southern2, there are many times in nature where clays and other debris get eroded into the water system. In fact there are many times in nature where there are fish kills. This isn't a "disaster".

allhans
23766
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allhans 01/03/12 - 09:59 am
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Burke County gets it's

Burke County gets it's drinking water from Reedy Creek. I'll bet they are taking this very seriously.

AFTER the fact is too late. What good is an EPD agency if it allows this to happen?

southern2
6264
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southern2 01/03/12 - 11:11 am
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Bruno This is not a case of

Bruno
This is not a case of erosion. It is caused by someone's 12 inch pipeline leaking. Why give them a pass? Do you own it?

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/03/12 - 11:48 am
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Well, I see the article has

Well, I see the article has indeed been updated and the owner of the pipeline identified. Thanks, Rob.

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/03/12 - 11:50 am
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Allhans, the government

Allhans, the government cannot prevent the catastrophic failure of a pipeline.

The government that can prevent all failures of all human processes is the government that has grown too big for me!

allhans
23766
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allhans 01/03/12 - 12:22 pm
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LL Then why do we have the

LL Then why do we have the department. I would think that an agency supported by the taxpayers would do some checking on plants that are known to have pollution problems... at least once in a while.

Boudreaux
117
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Boudreaux 01/03/12 - 05:39 pm
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Drink that Slurry and get

Drink that Slurry and get back to us about how natural it is and won't harm anything. Hopefully they are held accountable for once agian illegally poluting multiple waterways.

What is the bad odor that recently started coming from KaMin?

Bruno
780
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Bruno 01/03/12 - 05:51 pm
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Boudreaux, what do you think

Boudreaux, what do you think the Kao in Kaopectate is? Do you complain about dirt being in the creek? Allhans, it isn't like they pump it straight from the creek to your tap. If left alone the clay will settle out and be dispersed down stream. Kaolin is also known as "China Clay". It is an environmentally benign aluminosilicate mineral that is insoluble in water.

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 01/03/12 - 05:53 pm
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Why is a government agency

Why is a government agency involved in this spill? If the government stays out of it, the invisible hand of the free market will clean it up.

Swampman
46
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Swampman 01/05/12 - 09:07 am
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The "invisible hand" will do

The "invisible hand" will do nothing of the kind. Without government regulation, those responsible for a spill have absolutely no incentive to clean it up and the ecological and economic costs will be borne by the physical environment & the larger public.

This is how it was before environmental regulations - private profits at the expense of public interests. However fashionable may be for self-styled "libertarians" and ostensibly capitalist apologists to claim otherwise, that's a fact. The all-correcting power of the "invisible hand" is a lie.

Little Lamb
46403
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Little Lamb 01/05/12 - 09:43 am
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Swampman wrote: Without

Swampman wrote:

Without government regulation, those responsible for a spill have absolutely no incentive to clean it up.

I re-read the article above and I saw no mention of "cleaning up" the spill. I think they'll just let the kaolin wash downstream and settle. The kaolin came from the earth; to earth it shall return.

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