Truck stop chain blamed for water pollution - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Pilot Flying J updates progress on Troup Co. water clean up

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TROUP COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -

Pilot Flying J released this statement on Friday, April 11:

Pilot Flying J purchased the wastewater treatment plant at the end of 2012. Due to recent heavy rainfall in the area, the company has assessed and is implementing plans to address the overflow issues of the nearby antiquated and currently unused pond.

On the night of April 9, approximately 40,000 gallons of water was pumped from the pond into two Frac Tanks that were removed and disposed of off-site in accordance with state and federal standards. The pond water will continue to be pumped into an additional 15 Frac Tanks. The water will be sampled and tested.

The pond will be emptied, and the sediments of the pond will be excavated and sampled for proper disposal. Clean soil will be added to fill the pond area to ground level.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has been informed of this plan and the timeframe to resolve the pond overflow issue.

April 9 story:

In periods of heavy rain, the Long Cane River in Troup County overflows its banks and runs straight into a water treatment facility on Highway 219.

In the same spot, Pilot Flying J has a permit to unload waste collected during the course of business at their travel stops.

Dale Jackson lives about a mile away, and said the smell was the first thing he noticed.

"Just driving by, it will make you gag in your vehicle," Jackson described.

Jackson sent us cell phone video he recorded at the treatment plant right after a big rain in April, and it clearly shows water from the creek intermingled with water from the treatment facility pond.

"I don't consider myself an extreme environmentalist. I'm not necessarily concerned with saving a frog or a single plant, but this affects the people," said Jackson.

County officials said people who get their water through the City of LaGrange should not be affected, but Long Cane Creek is a tributary to the Chattahoochee River. A group called the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers has measured higher levels of E. Coli in the water since the plant started operating. They inspected the facility along with an agent from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

Jay Anderson, Senior Building Official in Troup County, said, "We looked at the site, and she informed me that the Georgia EPD was well aware of the situation, that they had already issued a letter of violation, and that certain clean-up measures are taking place over a set time table."

Anderson said the Georgia EPD told him they received complaints about the facility prior to February, and they have given the company until June to correct the problem.

Pilot Flying J issued this statement in response to our questions:

"The pond located at 3070 Whitesville Road, LaGrange, GA., has overflown due to the recent heavy rainfall. The pond is not connected to the adjacent wastewater treatment plant.

"Pilot Flying J is addressing this issue and is in the process of removing the water from the pond tonight and tomorrow so that the pond can be decommissioned. Pilot Flying J has placed sandbags to stop the overflow of the water and has been pumping water out today and will continue to do so tomorrow, as well.

"Pilot Flying J will continue to cooperate with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division."

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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