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Flowery Branch plant taking steps to fix 1990 spill
Company to send treated water to city sewer system
Flowery Branch has entered into a temporary sewer agreement with Avery Dennison as part of a groundwater cleanup effort on the property. Avery will extract contaminated groundwater, treat it and then send it to the Flowery Branch system. - photo by Tom Reed

Flowery Branch has entered into a temporary sewer agreement with an office products company to move along efforts to clean up groundwater affected by a 1990 chemical spill.

Avery Dennison plans to extract the groundwater from the site at 4350 Avery Drive, treat it there and then send it to the Flowery Branch system over the next two years, in amounts of up to 15,000 gallons per day, City Manager Bill Andrew said.

"We're committed to complying with full environmental regulations," said David Frail, Avery spokesman. "Where we have an issue, we go in and do the remediation. It's part of our responsibility to the communities where we operate."

At the time of the 1990 spill, Avery was operating a 206,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at the site. Avery Drive today is off Thurmon Tanner Parkway.

The spill took place in a "localized and well-defined zone of solvent constituents in shallow soil and groundwater beneath a small portion" of the plant, according to a document submitted by Avery to Flowery Branch.

"The solvent constituents entered the ground from an accidental discharge from an above-ground storage tank, and Avery excavated and properly disposed of affected soils in readily accessible areas immediately following ... the discharge."

The company now plans to install 10 "extraction wells," which will "remove groundwater and the vapors that are present in the soils above the groundwater table," Avery explains in the document.

"The extracted soil vapor and groundwater are then separated, and the water stream is treated by a device called an air stripper."

The device will remove all solvents but dioxane, an organic compound classified as an ether, and that will be treated by an "advanced oxidation" device.

"The water leaving the (extraction) system is expected to have (volatile organic compounds) and dioxane concentrations below laboratory detection limits ... which are considerably lower than maximum contaminant levels for drinking water," states the Avery document.

Andrew said in a document to Flowery Branch City Council members that the city "is planning to require independent lab testing on a regular basis to stay informed as to the quality of water being sent" to the city's wastewater treatment plant on Atlanta Highway.

The two years' worth of sewer capacity will cost Avery $49,500, the document also states.

Avery is acting now to comply with a 2004 order from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

"Environmental remediation processes take time," Frail said. "You have a number of steps that have to be done very carefully and thoroughly."

The agreement with Flowery Branch "will let us speed up the full remediation of the site," he added.

Avery also will need a state permit, however, before it can proceed with the cleanup.

The site now is used by Avery's radio frequency identification division, with about 25 employees.

Frail said he didn't know when or why Avery discontinued using the site for manufacturing.

As for the plant's future, "we have no plans for changing anything at this time," he added. 

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