EPA Causes Toxic Spill in Georgia

While the EPA thinks it has successfully swept the Colorado gold mine spill under the rug, emails show that they knew about the risk of a blowout and didn’t take the necessary precautions. They might also have to deal with another toxic spill that they caused in Georgia, involving the old Mary-Leila Cotton Mill in Greensboro:

In Greensboro, EPA-funded contractors grading a toxic 19th-century cotton mill site struck a water main, sending the deadly sediment into a nearby creek. Though that accident took place five months ago, the hazard continues as heavy storms — one hit the area Tuesday — wash more soil into the creek.

The sediment flows carry dangerous mercury, lead, arsenic and chromium downstream to Lake Oconee and then to the Oconee River — home to many federally and state protected species.

Lead in the soil at the project site is 20,000 times higher than federal levels established for drinking water, said microbiologist Dave Lewis, who was a top-level scientist during 31 years at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Initially, the EPA denied having anything to do with the project but then later admitted that it did in fact fund the cleanup operation.

Back in 2005, the EPA granted that the place be turned into a housing complex for the poor, homeless and mentally ill. They must really care about those people.


cotton mill


The Mary-Leila Cotton Mill around 1910.

The city of Greensboro objected to turning a toxic wasteland into a housing complex for the poor and disabled, especially since there wasn’t any plan to deal with the waste. The EPA and the GEPD (Georgia Environmental Protection Division) went ahead with the project and ended up hitting a water main and allowing toxic sediment to flow into a nearby creek.

The damage didn’t stop there. For a while, there was a clay barrier near the creek that helped contain the toxic sediment. EPA and GEDP contractors removed the barrier with a backhoe, allowing the toxic water to flow freely.