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Macon Water Authority dealing with 2 major spills in the past 2 weeks

The water authority says Graphic Packaging International is helping them with the process.

MACON, Ga. — The Macon Water Authority is dealing with two major recent spills from a local company. Between January 17- 20th and January 24th, the Macon Water Authority reported major spills from Graphic Packaging International (GPI). 

"It is primarily waste cellulose fiber from their process," Executive Vice President of Field Operations for the Water Authority Ray Shell said. 

According to documents sent into our newsroom, 104.4 million gallons of effluent discharged into the Ocmulgee River from the Rocky Creek Water Reclamation Facility off Mead Road. Ray Shell with the Water Authority says the water is still safe to use.

"So keep in mind, please, for the benefit of the public, the wastewater leaving this plant has been treated, and it has been disinfected," Shell said. 

Shell says one of their 7 million-gallon basins being offline is not making things easy, but he says GPI is working with the water authority to dispose of the solids properly.

"To assist in the recovery the company is participating in the disposal of these solids once they are removed from our plant, one of the problems that we had, we were overwhelmed by so many solids, once we removed them from the plant we had to store them on the plant site, we had nowhere to put them," Shell said. 

Shell says they are working to get the tank back online by the end of the month, and a future with fewer spills from GPI.

We reached out to GPI for a statement on the story and their response is below: 

"Graphic Packaging International strives to be a responsible corporate partner in the Macon community. In the fall of last year, we experienced process issues that resulted in exceeding our permit for the amount of solids in the water filtered through the Macon Water Authority. We worked together with MWA to address the issue and have been in full compliance since late last year - Sue Appleyard, Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications"

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