Anger turning to action after state issues permit for Ogeechee River polluter

From Walter Jones with Morris News Service, Feds might yank Ogeechee permit, Isakson says:

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is reviewing whether to call for federal involvement in blocking a permit to discharge into the Ogeechee River by the company responsible for the state’s largest fish kill.

The Georgia Republican assigned his staff to research the issues regarding federal pre-emption of state authority in the matter.

“I’ve got one of my staff people in Washington working on it,” he said.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a permit this month to King America Finishing. After the 2011 fish kill, the company agreed to give the state $1 million for environmental recovery but denied any wrongdoing.

State officials say the new permit has tougher restrictions than the one the company was using when it exceeded previous limits on contaminants that killed thousands of fish.

The Ogeechee Riverkeeper and a broad swath of the general public have already reacted strongly to the EPD’s issuance of the permit, which basically allows King America Finishing to discharge pollutants directly into the river, subject to certain conditions.

I’m sure there must be someone in coastal Georgia who is satisfied that the state has taken appropriate actions in this case and is confident that the state can be trusted to monitor the river’s health from here on out. But I sure haven’t seen any of my myriad online contacts — right, left, or center — make those arguments publicly.

Advocates for a healthy Ogeechee were in a better mood in July, when a judge said that the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and its members had the right to sue the EPD. That overturned a previous ruling, and it gave some hope to the small property owners who line the river that they could somehow stand up to state regulators and to the manufacturer.

State Representative Jan Tankersley seems content to take a wait and see approach, but citizens seem generally disgusted with the whole process. I’ve been surprised by the eagerness with which some reliably conservative voters are calling for federal action, but we can leave discussion of that irony for another day.

Right now, many coastal residents — and many whose property values are being decimated — fear that we are looking at “a dying river,” to quote a good friend far more knowledgeable than I about all this.


  1. AMB says:

    The Feds, regulations, and the EPA start looking pretty good when it is your backyard being crapped on.
    I wish the GOP would return to its Teddy Roosevelt days and put protecting the environment foremost instead of protecting the polluters.

    • ryanhawk says:

      Really? The lesson you learn from the EPD permitting pollution and shielding the polluters from litigation is that we need to give the EPD and environmental regulators of all stripes more power? How about getting the regulators, who are protecting the polluters in this case, out of the way and allowing affected property owners to protect their property rights in court?

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        What’s most peculiar to me though, is how a private organization can’t dump harmful chemicals into the river, but if they get a permit from government, well, now everything’s fine.

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            They do. What of it? That money itself doesn’t make the pollutants any more safe for the environment.

            • Calypso says:

              I agree with you. I was being flippant, and my meaning was ‘as long as the state got some $$ out of the deal then what the hell, go ahead and dump’. You know, legalized extortion, or at least payola.

  2. oompaloompa says:

    I am so disgusted with this entire debacle, I don’t even know where to begin. I find it pathetic we have had to raise so much $%^& to get anyone to listen to us. Thankful Senator Isakson is “entertaining” the thought of helping, but amazed that he even had to be involved when we have our own U.S. Reps in the districts as well as all the state reps and senators who have been so reluctant to say or do ANYTHING, especially communicate with voters.

    Down right shameful.

  3. Engineer says:

    As much as it irritates me, this is nothing new. EPD has a long history of rubber-stamping stuff like this. I’ve met several folks, who have worked for the EPD in the past and each of them have told me about how as long as the company had a buddy in high places, that they could practically kill everything non-human and get away with it. :\

  4. debbie0040 says:

    I would hope this company responsible for the fish kill had to pay a hefty fine that covered clean up costs and compensated business owners for lost income like BP had to. This should not be tolerated..

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