Savannah Riverkeeper seeks federal oversight of kaolin spill cleanup

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An environmental group wants the owners of a ruptured pipeline that spilled liquid kaolin into Reedy and Brier creeks to conduct a thorough cleanup, which company officials say is already under way.

Kaolin leaked from ruptured pipe  Special/Tonya Bonitatibus
Special/Tonya Bonitatibus
Kaolin leaked from ruptured pipe

In a federally required “notice of intent” filed this week, Savannah Riverkeeper alleges that KaMin LLC’s unpermitted discharge of 679 tons of kaolin into about 20 miles of wetlands habitat constitutes a violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

The notice includes an intent to file a “citizen enforcement action” lawsuit within 60 days if proper remediation, which could include wetlands permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, isn’t initiated. The group also asks that any cleanup work under way be halted until such activities are properly permitted.

Doug Carter, the company’s vice president, said KaMin has involved both the Corps of Engineers and Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division in efforts to monitor the affected streams and mitigate any ill effects.

“Our information is being shared with these organizations on a regular basis,” he said. “The data collected to date indicates that the pipeline rupture has had no significant impact on the local ecosystem and has not affected the water quality for any downstream use.”

KaMin, he added, “will remain focused on this issue until it is fully resolved to the reasonable satisfaction of all stakeholders.”

The Dec. 31 spill occurred near the Georgia Hwy. 17 bridge over Reedy Creek, which flows into Brier Creek. The pipeline involved has been taken out of service and company officials have said a monitoring plan was being developed to evaluate any environmental impacts.

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