Bacterial contamination closes portion of school playground

6:52 PM, Oct 15, 2013   |    comments
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A slide in the foreground reveals the temporary orange fence, limiting access to a school playground. The chicken plant is behind the tree line.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. -- An orange, temporary fence blocks off a sizable chunk of the playground behind Robinson elementary school. It was closed off after state and local officials discovered elevated levels e coli.

The source, they say, is a chicken plant next door.

School officials say the Gold Creek food plant became a chicken processor fairly recently -- long after Robinson Elementary opened. This summer, superintendent Keith Porter says and another administrator noticed a stream of fluid running from the plant to the playground.

"We saw some runoff that concerned us," Porter said. "And it was just the fact that it was a whitish grey substance."

Tests revealed elevated levels of e coli - the potentially deadly bacteria from animal waste. The fences blocked off part of the playground, and an outdoor classroom, newly funded by PTA donations. The whole thing disgusts Michelle Hout, the mother of a nine year old Robinson student.

"My child says he can smell it all the time when he's playing on the playground," Hout said. "And it's not healthy."

Porter says the state has directed the plant to clean the site and to contain its effluence. Officials with the chicken plant declined comment.

School officials say they are optimistic that they can get it fixed and get the playground reopened before the end of this year.

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