Textile plant faces stricter permit after Ogeechee River fish kill

The owners of a Screven County, Ga., textile plant could face stricter environmental monitoring rules in the wake of a May 2011 fish in which 38,634 fish died along a 70-mile stretch of the Ogeechee River.

Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, in a draft permit under review for King America Finishing Inc., will require that the textile company continuously monitor its treated wastewater for pH levels, with an alarm system to alert operators to problems, and continuously monitor dissolved oxygen to maintain levels of 5 parts per million “at all times.”

The new permit, which is out for public comment, also requires advance notice to environmental regulators whenever expansions, production increases or process modifications are contemplated, and specifies that the release of waste into the river must be reduced during dry weather, when low flows could hinder the safe assimilation of wastewater.

Last fall, in a consent order negotiated with EPD, the company did not directly acknowledge responsibility for the fish kill but agreed to finance $1 million in environmental improvements to resolve violations discovered by regulators investigating the incident.

One finding showed the company had added a fire retardant treatment process that generated wastewater, which was ultimately discharged to the Ogeechee River in violation of its permit.

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