EPD probing fish kill in Dalton Creek
WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- Most days Terry Amos says, Drowning Bear Creek flows clearly and calmly, winding behind the fabricators, and service businesses that branch off both sides of Abutment Road, home to divisions of two of Dalton larger makers of carpet and floor coverings; Mohawk and Shaw Industries.
Dawn Monday, was different.
"If it's an accident, they should be reprimanded immediately and told to be more careful," Amos says. "If it's deliberate, they should be locked up."
"They" would be whoever is responsible for the white foam that he and co-workers saw atop the portion of the creek that runs past Perpetual Machine Co., on Lessco Drive.
Or, more specifically, for the hundreds of dead fish they saw in the foam's wake.
"Mostly small, but there were also some redeye bass and sunfish, floating and on the bottom."
He called Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.
The trail would lead about three-quarters of a mile upstream, to New South Distribution, in the 2200 block of Abutment Road at McFarland.
Online directories indicate the company specializes in cleaning trucks, rail cars and rail tankers that hold "industrial inorganic chemicals."
"They've told us they use nothing but water in their part of the cleaning process," EPD investigator Jackie Scarberry tells Channel 3. "But the heavy rains from Sunday and Monday likely caused some of the runoff from their operations to get into the creek."
The EPD and a private contractor have taken soil and water samples to determine what the runoff might contain.
Amos would like to hear some answers quickly. Drowning Bear Creek is part of the watershed that feeds the Conasauga River.
"It's not just something that affects the fish, but those wild birds that feed off the fish," Amos says. "And on up the food chain."
New South Distribution's owner, John A. Bryant, has not returned calls seeking information and clarifications.
But Scarberry says Bryant has told EPD that he spent more than $200,000 several years ago for a containment pond and grading modifications to prevent runoff from contaminating the creek.
Tuesday, a New South supervisor ordered a Channel 3 crew off the property while a private contractor took soil and water samples and began digging a second containment pond.
The same contractor, Scarberry says, worked through Monday night to remove the dead fish and white foam.
New South Distribution was able to resume full business operations Tuesday.
Amos believes EPD owes everyone who lives or works along Drowning Bear Creek full disclosure of what the soil and water samples reveal.
"It's about being responsible," he says. "Everybody should take it upon themselves to take care of the environment. It's all we've got."