Lake Lanier Association volunteers Bev Nicholls and her husband Denny collect a water sample on Lake Lanier Wednesday March 18, 2015. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Brant Sanderlin
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

Oversight of Georgia chicken plants 'a sad state of affairs'

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the federal government and the state government place the main water testing responsibility on a group of volunteers, but that’s what happens here."

That quote is from an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official — he's talking about how the chicken processors' environmental impact is regulated in Georgia, in that often the processors regulate themselves. The state has just two inspectors overseeing industrial storm water pollution permits at some 3,000 sites; some of the most aggressive testing is done by volunteers.

Those concerns were validated this year when surprise inspections found that two companies were failing to do enough to prevent waste and manure from washing into a Georgia creek that empties into Lake Lanier. Sometimes after rains, Flat Creek is so choked with garbage you can barely see the water, one volunteer said.

But one poultry official said the plants are not the only ones to blame for high levels of bacteria.

Click here to see our complete investigation into the state of chicken plant regulation

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