SMN: Residents “disgusted” by state’s weak plans to punish Ogeechee River polluter

From Ogeechee plan redux: Citizens are disgusted in today’s Savannah Morning News:

With near unanimous frustration and outrage, dozens of speakers told regulators from the Environmental Protection Division Tuesday night that the state’s plans to punish Ogeechee River polluter King America Finishing fall short of both improving the river’s quality and forcing the company to make amends for wrongdoing.

“Your job is to protect the environment, yet you have repeatedly allowed a corporation from another state with no allegiance to Georgia or its people to come into the area and recklessly and criminally destroy a once pristine body of water,” said Connie Hayes, of Brooklet.

“You need to change your name to EDD, Environmental Destruction Division,” said Hubert Sapp, who’s lived on the river for 70 years.

A massive fish kill in 2011 on the Ogeechee River led to the discovery that King America Finishing — a manufacturer in Screven County — had been “operating an unauthorized discharge from a fire retardant line for five years.”

The EPD’s plan is to have the company spend a total of about a million dollars on a nature center, wastewater treatment in nearby Millen, and additional monitoring. The Ogeechee Riverkeeper has an ongoing lawsuit. Other recently settled lawsuits will lead to the restocking of shad in the river.

This ongoing issue raises myriad questions about how to balance industrial, environmental, recreational, and residential uses, not to mention the state’s seriousness in going after polluters.

For more background, check out posts here, here, here, and here.

7 comments

  1. xdog says:

    Thanks for the update Bill.

    I hope residents keep holding officials’ feet to the fire. I wonder where their elected officials stand on this. I’m guessing, at a distance.

    Connie Hayes is my new hero.

  2. James Fannin says:

    The Ogeechee Riverkeepers are my heroes. They have been front and center in raising this dreadful situation for years. The Ogeechee River is a treasure that belongs to all of us and we must not tolerate anyone who would steal it from us through indiscriminate polluting of our birthright. I’m a conservative Republican who believes our party needs to embrace the principles of Teddy Roosevelt and put the “conserve” back in conservative. The Environmental Protection Division needs to start protecting.

  3. As a rookie in environmental issues five years, I laughed when someone told me the EPD is commonly called the “Environmental Pollution Division” and Environmental Permitting Division.” They were right. The EPD has no interest in upholding its charge to protect the environment, wildlife, or the health of citizens in our state, which is detailed in the mission statement and vision. Recently they have said they are interested in economic development (maybe they should check in with Chip Rogers and his new job program at GPB, but I digress).

    The Ogeechee was in horrible condition before the fish kill, and it sure isn’t any better now. Our state representatives, the governor, AND the state’s Department of Community Health have no clue about, or desire to be, proactive on protecting our rivers, groundwater, and air.

    If it weren’t for the Riverkeepers, environmental groups like Southern Environmental Law Center and GreenLaw, and organizations like the one I work for (FACE), together with lots of concerned citizens, pollution in our state would be completely unchecked.

  4. settingtherecordstraight says:

    The EPD should rightly change their name from the Environmental PROTECTION Agency to the Environmental PERMITTING Agency. Disgraceful.

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