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Copper discharge traced to old Photocircuits building

Shuttered in ‘05, demolition taking place under new ownership
Officials with the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority are investigating the discharge of liquid copper into the sewer system at the former Photocircuits building at 350 Dividend Drive in the city’s industrial park.

WASA has conducted source point testing that identified the former Photocircuits campus as the place of discharge, said WASA General Manager Stephen Hogan. As a result, WASA has plugged the sewer system at the building to prevent further discharges, Hogan said.

The plug has been effective and the system’s copper levels have since returned to normal, Hogan said.

While the investigation is still ongoing at this point, WASA has the power to levy fines of up to $1,000 a day for violations, Hogan noted.

“We’re still investigating, trying to determine what actually occurred up there,” Hogan said.

The old Photocircuits building itself has been undergoing demolition by its new owner, Hogan said.

“We have had conversations with the property owner and so forth, but it’s an ongoing investigation,” Hogan said.

The problem was first discovered at the city’s sewer treatment plant where officials noticed a higher than normal copper level last July, Hogan said. The levels dropped back down for a while but a couple of months later they spiked again and then drifted back to normal in January and February of this year, Hogan said.

The copper levels went up again in March and April and increased in May, at which point it became a significant concern, Hogan added.

The high copper levels never reached the point that the city violated its discharge permit, Hogan said, adding that the plant handled the incidents quite well.

“It was close, it was very close,” Hogan said. “We were sweating it there for a while, but no it did not cause us to have a violation.”

The level of copper seen in the recent spikes was as high, if not higher, than when Photocircuits was actually in operation, Hogan said. As of now, the copper levels are back to normal, Hogan said.

The city discharges its treated sewer water into Line Creek.

When it was operating through 2006, Photocircuits discharged heavy metals into the sewer system, but it also operated an on-site treatment plant to remove a large quantity of the metals.

Hogan noted that a number of industries in the industrial park use pretreatment to eliminate particles from the sewage before they put it in the city’s sewer system for treatment.

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