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Posted September 21, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

George's plant responded to earlier wastewater release incident

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

George's Chicken experienced problems with wastewater release from its Edinburg plant weeks before the facility violated its state permit, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Email correspondence between a DEQ inspector and a George's Chicken representative provided to the Daily, show the Edinburg plant released solids and a "white milky discharge and foam" from the treatment facility into Stoney Creek on July 13.

The Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River called the DEQ shortly before 4 p.m. July 13 to report "a white milky discharge and foam" which persisted for 50-100 yards downstream of the creek, according to an email from Noel D. Thomas, senior compliance inspector for the agency, sent to other DEQ officials. Thomas notes the group's representative observed the foam mostly at the outfall line and saw neither any live or dead fish nearby. Thomas indicates he called the plant early the same evening and requested the worker find out the cause and to stop the discharge.

An email from Bob Wolfe, complex engineer and project manager for George's Virginia division, indicates plant workers noticed a "white tint to the water" the morning of July 13. Wolfe states he canceled part of the process and plant workers ceased that particular process.

"We have concluded that we drew down the lagoon a little too far over the suction end of the pump lift pipe and picked up some material from the bottom of the lagoon cap," Wolfe states in his email to Thomas. "This we believe contributed some unwanted solids to the system that caused the discoloration at the 001 outfall. There has been noticeable foam observed above our outfall for some time that continues downstream past our discharge pipe. At 2 p.m. Friday our operators observed no discoloration from our outfall. In the future we will be especially careful not to draw down the anaerobic lagoon level too far that could cause this mishap to reoccur. We regret and apologize for our oversight by not notifying DEQ immediately when we observed the discoloration tint in our outfall."

Thomas still expressed concern about the plant's treatment process related to the incident.

Less than a month after the incident, the treatment facility experienced a release of ammonia and solids into the creek which violated George's permit, according to DEQ officials. Other emails between Thomas and Wolfe indicate that George's made strides to rectify the problem and levels returned to within permitted limits over the next several weeks after the Aug. 1-7 violation.

The DEQ notice confirms what the Friends of the North Fork said in a Sept. 6 letter to the county's Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission when both panels held a joint public hearing on a request by Mountain View rendering plant to expand its sources of offal material. Friends of the North Fork cited the violation in its opposition to Mountain View's request, which the Planning Commission endorsed after the hearing.

Mountain View operates near the George's plant and uses the same wastewater treatment facility, according to Bob Kenney, vice president for George's Virginia Division. However, Mountain View comprises about 10 percent of the wastewater treated and released from the facility. George's comprises the remaining 90 percent, Kenney said Friday.

Mountain View's request comes before the Board of Supervisors for possible final approval Oct. 9.

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