Mar 7, 2022 - Business

EPA: Industrial waste did not contaminate soil near Atlanta school

A fallen tree crosses a small and still creek that runs between an industrial processing facility and a school

The unnamed tributary of the South River runs between the TAV Holdings metal processing plant and Crawford Long Middle School. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Federal environmental officials say waste that's flowed from the TAV Holdings metal processing plant in southeast Atlanta and into a creek did not contaminate the soil at the nearby Crawford Long Middle School.

  • Contamination from the plant did, however, make its way into the waterway, Environmental Protect Agency officials say. Staff plan to conduct additional sampling downstream to determine the extent of the pollution, in addition to air quality testing in the surrounding neighborhood.

Why it matters: An Axios Atlanta investigation reported that water and soil samples conducted by the Altamaha Riverkeeper and Emory University researcher Eri Saikawa found elevated levels of lead and other metals in the creek that winds past the school, a single-family neighborhood and park.

  • Once in the soil, the potentially toxic material can get onto people's shoes and into their homes, or dry up and become airborne.

What they're saying: Fletcher Sams of the Altamaha Riverkeeper says his nonprofit is "relieved that contamination was not found at the school where students learn and play."

  • He adds that the riverkeeper is "hopeful that Georgia’s EPD will begin to properly fund and staff their own programs so that dangerous operations like this don’t go unchecked."

TAV Holdings was not immediately available for comment.

What's next: On March 15, officials from the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will present their findings and plan to the community in a virtual meeting. Representatives from state environmental and public health departments will also answer questions.


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