New year, better water

Court settlement firms up commitment for a cleaner area river

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Georgians are getting the gift of cleaner water this holiday season as we head into 2014.

That’s because of the recent settlement of a complicated pollution case that began in May 2011, when 38,000 fish died along the Ogeechee River.

First and foremost, the site of one of the state’s worst fish kills will now rank among the most protected and closely watched waterways in the South, and the Screven County textile plant linked to the incident will remain open, preserving 500 important jobs.

Under a consent order labeled “unprecedented” by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, the company – King America Finishing – agreed to finance $1.3 million in supplemental environmental projects designed to preserve and improve water quality.

The agreement replaces and strengthens an earlier order that was successfully challenged by Ogeechee Riverkeeper as inadequate. The group also filed suit against King America Finishing over alleged violations of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Although regulators concluded a bacterial infection caused the fish kill, they also found the plant failed to obtain permits for a new fire retardant process it installed years earlier – which created an ongoing, illegal discharge of wastewater into the river.

Now, under agreements announced jointly by King America, EPD and Ogeechee Riverkeeper, the plant has a new permit to continue operations, with tighter water quality restrictions.

Under terms of the order, the environmental monitoring projects will be overseen and conducted by Georgia Southern University and the Augusta-based Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, which has developed its own unique expertise in tracking the impacts of man on natural rivers and streams.

Last, but by no means least, King America agreed to pay Ogeechee Riverkeeper $2.5 million – a donation of sorts – that will enabled the organization to expand and maintain its stewardship over one of the state’s most important blackwater ecosystems.

The Riverkeeper group intends to use those funds to collect more comprehensive data on the Ogeechee than ever before – and has pledged to continue to serve as a watchdog for the health of the watershed.

As a postscript to this happy ending to a story that could have gone in many different directions, it is worth noting that Ogeechee Riverkeeper is one of such riverkeeper groups in the state that are gradually assuming a greater watchdog role over water quality issues.

Georgia’s EPD, like many government agencies, has endured severe budget and personnel cuts, with responsibilities that seem to continue to expand. In 2008, EPD had 1,100 workers, but that figure had fallen to just 850 last year.

Could those reductions make it more difficult to regulate industrial pollution and enforce the provisions of our nation’s Clean Water Act? It’s hard to say, but it never hurts to have someone else watching.

This part of Georgia has a deserved reputation as a desired destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The settlement of this fish kill case sends a clear, much-needed message that all sides in this incident are reaffirming a commitment to preserving a healthy environment.

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ymnbde
10381
Points
ymnbde 12/30/13 - 07:14 am
4
2
cleverness of propaganda, for the comfortably deceived

what an easy lie this Chronicle writes
"a donation of sorts" is really an extortion
the EPA concluded that King America did not cause the fish kill
the EPA concluded that King America did not cause the fish kill
the EPA concluded that King America did not cause the fish kill
was that so hard? let us try it again
the EPA concluded that King America did not cause the fish kill
"...the fish did not die from chemicals, but from an outbreak of a fish bacteria called columnaris. Columnaris is a common cause of fish kills in all types of bodies of water regardless of industrial activity. Columnaris causes fish kills in ponds, controlled fish farms, even home aquariums. Outbreaks are often associated with environmental
stressors including low water flows, high temperatures, drought conditions..."
what were the conditions of the Ogeechee River at the time of the fish kill?
low water flows, high temperatures, and drought conditions
my goodness, Editorial writer, is this the new Chronicle standard for truth?
you're complicit in abusing one of the last textile mills in this area
when, once more, into the breach
"the EPA concluded that King America did not cause the fish kill"
perhaps a disclaimer should be put at the bottom of all future editorials
"this editorial may or may not be truthful, and may or may not impart information that is factually correct, and may in fact advocate certain positions. It is not intended to represent the truth in any shape, form or fashion. Folding, spindling, and mutilating of the truth has occurred."
my, how the standards have fallen

Riverman1
90455
Points
Riverman1 12/30/13 - 10:01 am
4
0
Ymbde, Nice Rebuttal

Ymbde, heh, that was a good rebuttal. It pointed out the flaws in the editorial well.

snwprd
2
Points
snwprd 12/30/13 - 03:02 pm
0
0
cleverness of propaganda went a little to far

Did Ymbde bring up false assumptions by the author?

This may have not been worded properly

"Although regulators concluded a bacterial infection caused the fish kill, they also found the plant failed to obtain permits for a new fire retardant process it installed years earlier – which created an ongoing, illegal discharge of wastewater into the river."

Consent Order Executed
September 21, 2011

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has executed a Consent Order with King America Finishing, Inc. in Dover, Georgia to address violations of the Georgia Water Quality Control Act that were discovered during EPD's investigation of the fish kill on the Ogeechee River that occurred in May of this year. During our investigation, it was discovered that the company had added a fire retardant treatment process that generated wastewater, which was ultimately discharged to the Ogeechee River in violation of their permit. Once EPD became aware of the unauthorized discharge, the company ceased operation. EPD has worked with the company to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, expand the monitoring program and restrict the hours that the fire retardant process is allowed to discharge. We are continuing to closely monitor the company's discharge and will take further action if necessary to insure the safety of the river.

May 26, 2011
For Immediate Release Contact: Kevin Chambers (404) 6517970

Georgia EPD announces Ogeechee River fish kill caused by Columnaris

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) announced today that the fish kill in the Ogeechee River was caused by Columnaris, a bacterial disease induced by
environmental stress. Humans are not known to be affected by this disease. The cause of the environmental stress is still unknown; therefore, EPD continues to advise citizens in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham and Screven counties not to swim in or consume fish from the Ogeechee River until further notice.

For Immediate Release June 3, 2011
Georgia EPD Approves Ogeechee River For Fish Consumption

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) announced today a
decision to lift a fish consumption advisory for the Ogeechee River based on
laboratory testing of fish tissue samples taken by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA). A swimming advisory for the river was removed last
Friday.
Advisories recommending people not swim in the river or eat fish taken from
the river were posted May 22 after dead fish began appearing in the river in
Screven and Bulloch counties. The advisory also applied to citizens in Bryan,
Chatham and Effingham counties as more dead fish were found downstream.
“Based on laboratory analysis, fish caught in the Ogeechee River are safe to
eat,” said Jim Ussery, Assistant EPD Director. “Even though we are lifting the
advisories for swimming and fish consumption, this does not mean our
investigation has ended. We will continue to look for the cause of the fish kill.”

It may never be known what caused the out break, but the company was still at fault for illegally discharging in to the river. I am sure there were environmental stresses, but a fire retardant release is unacceptable.

My references where the complete documents can be read.
http://www.gaepd.org/Documents/ogeecheefishkill.html

ymnbde
10381
Points
ymnbde 12/30/13 - 06:56 pm
0
0
thanks, Riverman

i still can't believe the chronicle printed such an erroneous editorial

Little Lamb
47950
Points
Little Lamb 12/31/13 - 08:56 am
0
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Fire Retardant

snwprd posted:

It may never be known what caused the out break, but the company was still at fault for illegally discharging in to the river. I am sure there were environmental stresses, but a fire retardant release is unacceptable.

The releases of the chemical were not legal only because the law requires the company obtain approval notifying EPD of upcoming changes to its manufacturing processes and any new chemicals it plans to release, so the EPD can evaluate and modify the release permit if necessary.

So, yes, King America Finishing was guilty of not following the law. They have paid and will continue to pay a high financial penalty.

However, to say that any fire retardant release is unacceptable is going too far. King America Finishing now has a new release permit that indeed does allow releases of this chemical.

Little Lamb
47950
Points
Little Lamb 12/31/13 - 09:01 am
0
0
Here's something to think about

ACES wrote:

[R]egulators . . . found the plant failed to obtain permits for a new fire retardant process it installed years earlier – which created an ongoing, illegal discharge of wastewater into the river.

EPD is supposed to conduct on-site inspections of plants such as King America Finishing every two years or so. It looks like the regulators missed a chance to correct King America Finishing's oversight in not reporting the new process by conducting lackadaisical inspections over the years.

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