Early Saturday morning, residents of a Smyrna neighborhood were surprised to find that their local creek has become white in color and chalky in appearance. Their surprise soon turned to dismay as they learned that their community had been contaminated by chemical runoff from a local industrial plant.
The Marietta Daily Journal reports that over 2,300 gallons of chemicals seeped into a small creek in the Kenwood neighborhood in Smyrna from nearby Apollo Technologies beginning around 7:30 p.m. Friday evening.
A press release from Apollo, a chemical packaging company, states that the leaking fluid is carburetor cleaner that originated in its facility. The company claims its employees first noticed the runoff as they began the workday at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, promptly alerting the authorities.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, and Cobb County Fire Department have been on the scene since Saturday, working to contain the spill and facilitate clean up.
After arriving on scene, authorities successfully set up a dam of sand bags in order to keep the carburetor cleaner from flowing downstream into a nearby lake. The creek itself, however, is thoroughly contaminated.
Local resident Ken Williams told the Marietta Daily Journal that the smell coming from the creek was strong and when he went outside his home, he was “just hit with
He added that, despite witnessing other chemical spills in the creek, the latest incident was “the worst it has ever been.”
Though the cleanup is still ongoing, the damage to the local environment is already clear. Early studies by Georgia Fisheries and Wildlife estimate that 100 animals have died from the toxicity of the fluid.
Although authorities are attempting to minimalize the damage by getting the situation under control, a difficult cleanup process lies ahead. As Jason Booth, a coordinator for the EPA, points out, the chemical in the Kenwood creek does not rise to the surface like oil but instead mixes in with the water.
Over 200,000 gallons of water have been removed from the creek in an effort to rid it of the carburetor cleaner. Members of the Environmental International Corporation are standing by to test air and water samples in order to determine when the creek is clean.
Meanwhile, Apollo is blaming the spill on a faulty gasket as well as a failure in the plant’s retention system, according to the AJC. The chemical company has hired a professional engineering firm to inspect the nearly 40-year-old building that houses the facility.
Geoff Laude, COO of Apollo’s parent company PLZ, came to Smyrna from St. Louis to oversee his company’s participation in the cleanup process, pledging to do whatever is necessary to undo the damage caused by the spill.
“Our No. 1 priority is to clean up this pollution and the creek,” Laude said Sunday. “We have already seen a tremendous improvement within 24 hours … and we will do this for as long as it takes to get the creek clean.