“The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has proposed a new consent order with King America Finishing, which is intended to allow the company to proceed with environmental improvement projects to benefit the Ogeechee River in east Georgia,” EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers said in a statement.
The company came under scrutiny in May 2011 after 38,000 fish died along a 70-mile stretch of the river. A state investigation found the company had added a fire retardant treatment process that generated wastewater discharged to the Ogeechee, in violation of its permit.
In a previous consent order, the company did not directly acknowledge responsibility for the fish kill but agreed to finance $1 million in unspecified environmental improvements to resolve violations discovered by regulators.
According to the proposed new order, those improvements will include working with Georgia Southern University to create a nature center to study the ecology of the river. The project must be completed in 36 months at a cost of $766,391.
Other proposed projects include third-party monitoring of the plant’s discharge for 18 months, at a cost of $75,000; and $158,609 in improvements to Millen’s wastewater treatment plant, which discharges into the Ogeechee.
If King America doesn’t complete any of the projects on time, it must pay the penalty to the state in cash, the order said.
EPD Director Judson H. Turner also announced that state officials have withdrawn the wastewater discharge permit issued to King America in August, and it has ordered the company to perform an “antidegradation analysis” to ensure that water quality standards are met while allowing important economic or social development.
The August permit imposed strict monitoring standards on the company’s discharges, but it was criticized by environmental groups as too lenient.
The new proposed consent order is available for public comment through Nov. 14.