A kaolin spill from a broken pipeline in Jefferson County is under investigation by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.
The spill, which allowed the milky liquid to flow from the ruptured 12-inch pipe into Reedy Creek near Wrens, was reported by residents of the area about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release from the Savannah Riverkeeper environmental group.
Repairs were already under way to stop the leak. The spill site is believed to be near the Georgia Highway 17 bridge.
Frank Carl, the organization’s science adviser, estimated several tons of the kaolin slurry leaked into the creek, which flows into a larger stream, Brier Creek.
The 7.5-mile pipeline belongs to KaMin LLC, which has its Georgia offices in Macon, according to Vice President Doug Carter.
“It appears at this time the pipeline failed near the Highway 17 bridge and ran downhill into Reedy Creek,” Carter said. “At the time of the pipe failure we notified EPD of the spill and, together with the DNR and EPD, have developed a monitoring plan for the creek from our plant south to Keysville.”
Company officials have remained in contact with those agencies. “Based on our monitoring, the pH of the creek has not been affected. The pipeline that has failed has been taken out of service until the cause of the failure can be determined.”
Last October, a widespread fish kill along more than 18 miles of Brier Creek killed about 12,000 fish. Although the cause is suspected to be linked to kaolin facilities in that area, state regulators have not taken any enforcement actions.
Biologists studying the Oct. 15 incident blamed the fish mortality on a rapid drop in pH levels below the U.S. Highway 221 bridge.