Tuesday May 28th, 2024 3:05AM

City of Dawsonville responds to lawsuit from Gold Creek Foods

By Austin Eller News Director

The City of Dawsonville issued a response Thursday morning to accusations made in a recent lawsuit by Gold Creek Foods over alleged wastewater and sewage discharges at the facility.

Gold Creek officials previously told AccessWDUN that the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and named Dawsonville Mayor John Walden, Council members Caleb Phillips, William Illg, Sandy Sawyer, Mark French, City Manager Bob Bolz and Utilities Director Jacob Barr.

Gold Creek is specifically asking the court to prevent the City of Dawsonville from cutting off the plant's water and sewer service. The complaint claims the city has been using the wrong location to test wastewater discharge, leading to erroneous fines and the possible disconnection of its water and sewer service.

In its response, the city said it first learned Gold Creek had filed the lawsuit on Friday, April 12. 

"Prior to this, the City was working with Gold Creek Foods on concerns the City has about Gold Creek Food’s waste water from its industrial chicken processing facility in Dawsonville, Georgia," the city said in a statement.

Before the lawsuit was filed, Dawsonville and Gold Creek reportedly last communicated on March 21. In that communication, the City requested that Gold Creek make a proposal to the city on how the parties could move forward.

"Instead, just over three weeks later, Gold Creek Foods filed its lawsuit," the statement from Dawsonville said. "The City is obviously disappointed that Gold Creek chose the path of litigation over continued negotiation."

"The City of Dawsonville vehemently denies the salacious allegations of Gold Creek Foods," the statement from Dawsonville continued. "The City has but one goal with its ordinances related to high-strength waste water: to see that they are followed for the good of the public and the environment.  Based upon the information the City received, and in consultation with waste water professionals, the City continues to believe that Gold Creek Foods is often in violation of that ordinance.  While the City always prefers to resolve matters short of litigation, since Gold Creek Foods chose this path the City looks forward to having this issue resolved in a Court of law."

Gold Creek said in its complaint that the poultry processing plant only discharges wastewater at a large volume once or twice a day and discharges sanitary water at a small volume constantly. They allege the city only samples where the sanitary and industrial water are commingled.

The complaint alleges the city’s current testing station is at a place in the pipe after Gold Creek’s sanitary sewer line and industrial wastewater line merge, which is contrary to the testing method in the Environmental Protection Division permit and the city’s ordinance. 

“The city of Dawsonville isn’t complying with its own ordinance or the U.S. or Georgia constitutions in assessing these surcharges and penalties,” Stephen E. O’Day with Smith Gambrell & Russell, the Atlanta law firm representing Gold Creek said. “Gold Creek is the only person or entity whose sanitary sewer discharges are sampled by the city, and against whom millions of dollars in fines and penalties are assessed as a result. The city has left us no choice but to file this complaint because they’ve been unwilling to allow us to investigate their results or to appeal their process, nor are they complying with the EPD permit or other laws.” 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Dawsonville, lawsuit, Gold Creek Foods, Gold Creek, City of Dawsonville
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