AGL to study coal tar deposits in Ocmulgee
July 7, 2000
Atlanta Gas Light Co. will continue studying the effects coal tar deposits might be having on the Ocmulgee River's ecology.
Last summer, the company sent a barge out on the river near the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to test for hazardous materials that had seeped there from an old manufactured-gas plant the company operated in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The testing is part of a three-site remediation effort required by the state. AGL consultants removed hazardous materials, including cancer-causing lead and benzopyrene, from Central City Park last January. It also plans to remove similar materials from the actual site - now a parking lot for AGL equipment and trucks - on Seventh Street.
"Starting today, we're doing a low-key, ecological survey in the river area from a johnboat," Roland Young, an AGL spokesman, said Thursday. "Then during the middle of July, we'll return with the barge again."
The studies will be used to determine whether aquatic life has been affected by the waste and whether removal of the deposits could harm wildlife. It is possible the company and the state will decide to leave the deposits in the Ocmulgee's riverbed.
"We're still investigating these options," said Sarah Divakarla, a geologist with the EPD's hazardous waste management branch. "They'll take some samples of the water, the soil and the aquatic life if they can find any."
It will be at least one year before such a decision is made, Young said.
While studies are conducted on the river, AGL will continue working on a removal plan for the Seventh Street site, Young said. A corrective action plan will be handed to the state for review by Sept. 30.
The state will take at least two months to review AGL's plans for removing the waste from the parking lot. Waste there is buried in holes underneath the pavement.
As long as the state approves the plan, AGL should begin cleanup at the site early next year.
The gas company expects to spend about $12 million cleaning up problems in Macon, Young has said. Georgia Power, a partner when the plant operated, will share those costs.
The two companies already are removing wastes from other manufactured-gas plant sites in the state, including ones in Atlanta, Columbus and Americus.
Manufactured gas was created by burning coal. Its energy was used to heat homes and light street lamps.