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Social Circle gets $200,000 grant for clean up of mill site

SOCIAL CIRCLE - Social Circle has received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the site of an old mill on Cannon Road.

A soil assessment conducted 15 years ago revealed surface levels of arsenic on the property, City Manager Doug White said.

The contamination was discovered when Georgia Power was conducting a PCB spill cleanup on the site. The cleanup addressed the PCBs but the arsenic was not eliminated, White said.

The assessment indicated the arsenic was at a surface level and had not reached the groundwater, he said, adding that there appeared to be no cause for alarm for residents in the area.

The city applied for a grant to have the property reassessed and cleaned up, but the EPA determined there was no need for an additional assessment, and instead awarded the city a $200,000 Brownfields grant for cleanup, White said.

Brownfields grants help revitalize industrial and commercial sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence of a potentially hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

The city is hoping to acquire the property, which is owned by a private landowner, through the Downtown Development Authority for potential commercial use. The city's master plan calls for the site to tie in with the central business district, possibly through a pedestrian walkway, White said.

In 2007, several thousand containers of hazardous materials were found stored in warehouses on the same property. The material was removed and disposed of by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and is not related to the upcoming cleanup, White said.

The materials were purchased from a Department of Defense surplus by a man who may have been leasing space at the site, and were not present when the arsenic was found, he said.

This year, the EPA has awarded $1.35 million in brownfields grants to six Georgia communities.

In addition to commercial and industrial redevelopment, brownfields have included conversion of industrial waterfronts to river front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails and gas stations to housing.

Since the program was implemented in 2002, more than $10.4 billion has been distributed.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.