The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is not responding pro-actively to the King Finishing Company’s ongoing river spill causing the enormous fish kill, and the mild response proves it.
The investigation showed that King Finishing had been making unauthorized discharges of flame retardant chemicals into the black water stream for five years. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division ordered the company to fund $1 million worth of environmental projects on the river. DNR is paying for it now,” said state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, one of five state legislators watching the restocking effort Wednesday. “Certainly that is something that should be the responsibility of the culprit.”
The Order requires King Finishing to spend $1 million on an unspecified “supplemental environmental project,” it does not require the company to pay a penalty, nor does it require that it cover the costs for the restocking of the fish in the river which was conducted by the state last month. State taxpayers will be responsible for picking up that bill.
The Order allows the company to continue the unpermitted discharge of pollutants from the manufacturing line, although both state and federal law prohibit discharging into waterways without a permit. The public has been given no opportunity for any input into any of the Order’s terms.
The Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by the public interest law firm, GreenLaw, the group filed notice to file suit against King America Finishing, which operates the textile plant in Screven County and has a state permit to put its discharges into the Ogeechee. The suit alleging that the Chicago-owned operation is still discharging color, ammonia and formaldehyde into the river in violation of it’s state-authorized permit.
King America should be one of the cleanest textile plants in Georgia right now, their operations are under a microscope. Upstream from its discharge pipe, the river and fish seemed healthy.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper filed a 60-Day Notice of Violations and Intent to File Citizen Suit under Section 505 of the Clean Water Act against King America Finishing, which is located in Screven County, Georgia, near Oliver.
To see a copy of the lawsuit and the Georgia EPD enforcement order, click here.
King America Finishing has released a statement in response, Company officials, however, say, there’s no guarantee that fines from the Environmental Protection Division would have gone to protect the river.
A statement released by the company states, in part:
It appears that the Riverkeeper also does not fully appreciate the unfortunate fact that civil penalties ostensibly paid to the Department of Natural Resources pursuant to the Georgia Water Quality Control Act actually go directly into Georgia’s general fund. As a result, there is no assurance that civil penalties paid directly to EPD will actually be allocated by the Georgia General Assembly to EPD or to any environmental matters during its annual budget process.
The agreement funnels company funds to yet-unspecified projects on the Ogeechee River, soiled after the company illegally dumped waste in it for years.