SMYRNA, Ga. - Officials of a Cobb County chemical plant which temporarily suspended manufacturing after thousands of gallons of cleaner leaked into a local creek discussed the investigation and cleanup efforts on Monday afternoon. Geoff Ladue, COO of PLZ Aeroscience, parent company of Apollo Technologies, said they are trying to determine if it was a failure of equipment or human error which led to the spill.
Ladue said the creek looks clearer since the cleanup effort began on Sunday. The company confirmed that an estimated 2,300 gallons of carburetor cleaner leaked from its tank, out of the building and into a creek early Saturday morning. As of Monday afternoon, the company said they had removed 200,000 gallons of water from the creek.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division are overseeing the cleanup.
"So, we're all working together as best we can to clean this up as fast as we can," said Jason Booth of the EPA.
Investigators believe a gasket on the tank failed, though they are not sure at this point if it was an equipment error or a human one. The company has taken the tank out of service and will have all their equipment inspected by engineers. They also continue to interview employees about how the spill happened.
“Until we can determine exactly what happened and make sure the facility is safe, we don't want to go back into full scale production,” said Geoff Ladue, the chief operating officer of PLZ Aeorscience, Apollo's parent company.
Some neighbors who live along the creek are upset about the impact it has already had on wildlife. Dana McPherson, who has lived on Heather Road for five years, collected water samples and dead animals from the creek Sunday evening.
"This frog doesn't have a voice. I'm his voice now," said McPherson, as he held up a large frog in a jar. "I'm a great advocate for the wildlife and animal, but this little guy doesn't have a voice anymore because he's sitting in a jar dead because of Apollo [Technologies'] incompetence."
Neither Apollo Technologies nor the EPA would estimate how long the spill remediation will take.