The draft permit, which is out for public comment, replaces one that was issued to King America Finishing last August but was withdrawn over legal challenges from environmental groups.
Since then, the EPD required the company to perform an “anti-degradation analysis” to demonstrate that lowering water quality in the river was necessary for economic reasons.
The company came under scrutiny after a major fish kill in 2011. The resulting investigation found water quality violations that are being addressed in a consent order requiring, among other things, that the company finance $1 million in environmental projects to benefit the river and its ecosystem. That consent order, which has been criticized as being too lax, remains under final review.
The proposed new discharge permit unveiled Monday differs from the 2012 permit in several ways:
• Stricter limits for dissolved oxygen, whole effluent toxicity and formaldehyde must be met immediately rather than on a schedule.
• The plant must have a Class II Biological Wastewater Treatment System Operator immediately rather than on a schedule.
• An option to reduce the monitoring for acute toxicity has been removed.
• A requirement to explore the feasibility of a land application system to dispose of wastewater has been eliminated.
The division will hold a public hearing to solicit comments on the draft wastewater permit at 7 p.m. May 7 at Effingham County High School in Springfield, Ga.
Written comments will be accepted through May 15.
Copies of the permit fact sheet, draft permit and anti-degradation analysis are available on EPD’s Web site at www.georgiaepd.org in the What’s New section.