Tifton Gazette

Local News

March 19, 2010

Agents find barrels buried at suspected dump site

MOULTRIE — There may be merit to allegations of illegal dumping of hazardous wastes at Reed Bingham State Park. Federal authorities dropped a backhoe into one suspected area Thursday afternoon, and there was an immediate sound of scraping metal. Two drums had been unearthed by 4 p.m. and the digging had only just begun.

Federal environmental agents descended upon the park Thursday morning to run tests for possible illegal hazardous chemical dumping. They came in just a couple of weeks behind state environmental agents whose findings are yet to be released. The state agents did not dig up anything.

At one site Thursday, just behind the playground and adjacent to a creek that feeds into Little River, core samples were being taken. 

At the same time, another federal team was about a half mile away at the gopher tortoise field where they were using a magnetic sensor to survey an area where containers of chemicals were alleged to have been buried. This site is also very near where American bald eagles nest. It’s at this site where the metal drums were uncovered.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a direct connection to the park because part of the initial funding was from federal sources. As well, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency is connected by virture of the eagle nest.

The state Environmental Protection Division is part of the state Department of Natural Resources. Some of the “Friends of Reed Bingham” organization voiced concern that the state was “investigating itself.” The first report of illegal dumping actually went to the federal agency about a month ago.

At the site where the magnetic sensor was being used, blue flags were being placed early in the day to indicate the potential for metal devices being buried. At least a dozen flags had been placed by 11 a.m. at a location that a park employee reportedly had identified as a dump site. The technology being used at that site can detect metal objects 50 feet deep.

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