Potentially toxic garbage clogging local river

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

Potentially toxic trash in a Rockdale County river is concerning many residents.

ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. - A huge trash pile with potentially toxic garbage is clogging a river and causing concerns for neighbors in Rockdale County.

Tonya Bechtler, with the Yellow River Water Trail, discovered the huge pile when she was scouting a trail through the woods.

“We all just stood here and said,' oh my gosh,'” Beckler told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.

The pile is on the Yellow River through deep woods, about mile from the Georgia International Horse Park, in Conyers.

Bechtler said it may have been hidden for many years and made worse by the heavy rains, which pulled trash from the banks and the roads downstream. 

The pile, which is several feet deep, contains bottles and rusty refrigerators -- but probably the most concerning are the rusting drums, which river experts fear could contain hazardous waste.

“At some point those drums are going to rust out, and whatever is in them is going to end up in the water,” said Bonny Putney, a water trash expert with Rivers Alive.

“We don’t know what is in this. There could be needles, there could be all kind of red bag (biohazardous) waste that was disposed of improperly that could get downstream and get into our water supply,” Putney said. 

There is no indication that the water is unsafe, but issues could worsen if the pile isn’t cleaned up, according to Kevin Sorrow, a water reclamation manager with the city of Covington.

“This pollution gets in the drinking water, and the chemicals that are released for this have to be treated,” Sorrow said.

Neighbors want to get the pile cleaned up before it becomes a more serious problem. They’ve organized a cleanup for Friday, Sept. 20. Click here for information on the event.

“Who wants to swim in this? Who wants to kayak in this? Who wants this in your drinking water?” Bechtler said.