Cleanup continues at Rocky Creek as crews work to trace spill’s source

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:30 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:09 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Cleanup continues Thursday at Rocky Creek after a chemical spilled, filling the air with a foul smell and killing more than 100 fish.

Crews spent Thursday digging up soil in the area that may be contaminated. They were digging on property off North Leg Road owned by MDR Trucking of Augusta.

Here’s a map of the area:

You can see Rocky Creek which the chemical spilled into off North Leg Road near Commerce Drive. Crews were removing soil right across the street.

Crews have been working to get this spill under control. They have been using a vacuum to suck up that substance from the creek. The Savannah Riverkeeper says this isn’t the first time this creek has had issues.

The cleanup crew is made up of contractors who use a giant vacuum truck to suck up what’s thought to be a petroleum substance from Rocky Creek.

Contracting crews dig up potentially contaminated soil on Nov. 18, 2021, near Rocky Creek,...
Contracting crews dig up potentially contaminated soil on Nov. 18, 2021, near Rocky Creek, where a chemical substance tainted the water and left more than 100 fish dead.(WRDW)

“This is on the large size for us,” said Jeff Darley.

Darley is a district manger for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and says his agency is still trying to find out what happened.

“We’re still looking into the actual cause and what the material is. Still have not confirmed the substance but we believe its a petroleum substance, but that’s about all we know,” he said.

They believe it all started upstream off a tractor-trailer lot. Crews began digging out the soil to test it.

“There’s no confirmed harm at this time,” said Darley.

That testing could cost the state or the person responsible thousands of dollars.

“We hope that there are no fines involved but if the investigation determines there was deliberate action, then our agency has the ability to fine,” said Tonya Bonitatibus of Savannah Riverkeeper.

The Savannah Riverkeeper says this creek has seen it’s fair share of issues.

“It’s an urban creek that unfortunately has taken a number of hits throughout the years,” Bonitatibus said.

She’s seen issues with oil and white paint being washed into the creek.

“Right now, Rocky Creek is listed as impaired for the state of Georgia so it is known as a creek that needs to be restored and rehabilitated,” said Bonitatibus.

She says her organization will continue to educate the community and show that every waterway has a purpose.

“We still have a lot of work to do to make sure our community understands that you can’t just rinse this stuff into the creek because it has affected more than a mile downstream and that’s a problem,” she said.

Crews tells us cleanup should only take a few more days. They say they don’t expect it to drag too far into next week.


Substance spill at Rocky Creek

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