Wilkinson mine replaces kaolin pipe; spills continue

mstucka@macon.comJune 16, 2014 

A Wilkinson County kaolin mining operation has made significant upgrades to its facilities after reporting four spills in the last several years, state records show.

BASF Corp. agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty to settle a state complaint about the spills, without admitting wrongdoing.

But a consent order with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division suggests that the company already spent far more money than that to clean up its operations.

Over the last couple years, BASF replaced all eight miles of an underground pipeline that carries a muddy mix of kaolin between a McIntyre mine and a Gordon processing plant. A section of that pipeline spilled 2,000 gallons in July 2012 into Little Commissioner Creek. Within the next year, that section of the pipeline had been replaced, and by December 2013 the entire pipeline had been replaced.

The company reported two spills since the pipeline was completed. On Feb. 3 of this year, several hundred gallons of a kaolin mix went into a ditch that flowed into Nelson Creek. On April 17, several thousand gallons of a watery mixture spilled, and about 500 gallons went into Little Commissioner Creek.

Under the consent order, the company agreed to continue driving along the pipeline weekly and using airplanes to inspect it twice a month.

The company also increased training for lab technicians to evaluate acidity, and it installed new equipment to better treat discharge from an impound pond to Little Commissioner Creek, according to the consent order.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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