PRESS RELEASE: GA EPD poised to issue weakened Milliken permit

Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director


Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has reviewed the draft permit released by Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) for Milliken Longleaf Pine Facility which discharges into the Ogeechee River. ORK issues the following as its official statement regarding the draft permit, at this time:

On September 30, 2020, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) released a draft permit for the Milliken Longleaf Pine Facility, formerly known as King America Finishing (KAF).  

In 2011, approximately 75 miles of the Ogeechee River, downstream from this facility, experienced one of the worst fish kills in Georgia’s history.  

Following that environmental disaster, Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) held the facility accountable for its Clean Water Act (CWA) violations, resulting in one of the most stringent permits ever issued by GA EPD in order to protect the health and ecology of the river. 

Now, nearly a decade later, GA EPD’s new proposed permit puts many of those protections and safeguards at serious risk.

The draft permit eliminates the testing of many parameters and constituents (including formaldehyde and flame retardant (THPC)), and reduces the required frequency of sampling for many others. This is in spite of the fact that the facility has been found in violation of their existing permit every quarter of the last 12 quarters. In light of this problematic history, ORK is requesting GA EPD tighten toxicity requirements in the final permit.

It is ORK’s position that no parameters or constituents should be removed from the permit and there should be no reduction in the frequency of sampling or testing requirements. 

The facility’s unwillingness to invest adequate resources to operate within its permit limits is no excuse for loosening its permit requirements. 

In addition, the draft permit adds tiered limitations that would be based on the facility’s own, self-reported production levels. ORK is requesting that GA EPD base the permit limitations on levels that are protective of the river, not based on production levels the factory hopes to achieve.

A surprising development was made during ORK’s routine monitoring and a subsequent investigation. ORK discovered that Milliken is discharging polyfluoroalkyl or perfluoroalkyl (PFAs) chemicals into the river. PFAs are chemicals that are known to have serious negative effects on human health and bioaccumulate in fish and other organisms that humans consume. 

One of the provisions of the settlement between Milliken/KAF and ORK after the 2011 fish kill required Milliken/KAF to perform a complete fish tissue study if it was found to be discharging PFAs. This study was intended to determine the levels of chemicals bioaccumulating in the river. 

On April 9, 2014, Milliken submitted documentation from a certified lab in accordance with that requirement stating that they were not discharging PFAs. GA EPD accepted the findings without independent verification. 

ORK’s independent investigation indicated the facility was in fact discharging PFAs chemicals. ORK evaluated the document submitted to GA EPD by Milliken, only to find that the method and detection limits used were insufficient to determine the facility’s use of these chemicals – in other words, the study itself was inadequate and flawed. Its results are therefore questionable.

It is ORK’s position that a fish tissue study — which should have already been required based on the 2014 settlement — must be completed before a new permit is issued. 

The public has a right to know the chemical levels in the fish that they consume from the river and the estuary it empties into. Additionally, the results of this study should be used by GA EPD to inform PFAs limitations and requirements in the new permit.

Milliken’s track record of multiple violations, inadequate evaluations, and inconsistent self-reporting illustrates how dangerous the facility is to the health of the Ogeechee River. ORK is asking GA EPD to issue a permit that prioritizes the safety and health of the river and its users, and not the desires of the polluter. 

ORK encourages citizens that share the goals of protecting the watershed and improving the water quality of the river to help in this effort by attending a virtual public meeting on November 17 and submitting written comments by November 20.

Further details, including a copy of the draft permit, information about the 2011 fish kill, and a side-by-side permit comparison, are available at

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 245 miles long, the Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,000 square miles of land. More at


ORK partners with Statesboro, KSSB to install litter trap

CORRECTION: A photo was mistakenly shared in connection with this story. The image depicted a boom-style litter trap that was constructed and installed by WATERGOAT, while the litter trap in the story was purchased from another provider. The image was removed from this site and social media after its origin was identified. ORK regrets the error.

The image below is new and is from the installation at Little Lotts Creek on October 4, 2020.


Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard

Communications and Administrative Director

Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful
Contact: Amanda Clements
KSBB Coordinator

Little Lotts Creek location aims to be the first in an expanding program

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has partnered with the City of Statesboro and Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful (KSBB) to help curb litter pollution in Little Lotts Creek. ORK researched litter trap technology and will install a ‘boom’ style device to catch litter. In collaboration with officials from the City of Statesboro, an initial site was chosen in Little Lotts Creek.

The City of Statesboro covered the cost to purchase the ‘boom’ litter trap, which uses a string of floats and a net to capture pieces of litter. ORK and KSBB will install the trap in October and coordinate regular pickups of trash cleared out of the trap. Items that can be recycled or repurposed will be collected by Boro Recycling. Other stakeholders for the project include community members with an interest in curbing litter and pollution.

Installation of litter trap, October 4, 2020

“We hope this will be the first of many similar traps in Statesboro, Bulloch and beyond,” says Damon Mullis, executive director and riverkeeper at Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “And we will use this project to educate the public about how to reduce litter in our waterways, and how litter affects the health of our watershed.”

“The City has been looking for ways to continue partnering with Ogeechee Riverkeeper on a stream clean project,” said John Washington, city engineer, “and this was a very viable venture. If successful, this may lead to other partnerships throughout the City.”

A media advisory with details about installation will be distributed in early October.

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 245 miles long, the Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,000 square miles of land. More at

About Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful: Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation. Our goal is to educate and empower citizens and businesses with the resources needed to facilitate litter prevention, beautification, and community greening within the city of Statesboro and surrounding areas. More information can be found at

Images and interviews available upon request.

Watch a time lapse video of the installation.

Press Release: ORK joins #GivingTuesdayNow efforts

Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director 


Savannah, Ga. –  Ogeechee Riverkeeper® (ORK) is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, set to take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. The day is designed to highlight generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world. 

ORK has continued its work of monitoring waterways, advocating for legislative priorities and finding new ways to reach citizens of the Ogeechee River basin. However, ORK has had to postpone events like the popular paddle trips and educational classroom visits. 

“We need to continue our work in the field now and make sure we are ready to ramp up our outreach efforts in the future,” said Damon Mullis, riverkeeper and executive director. “Financial support means once the crisis subsides, we can get back that much quicker. We can accept major sponsors as well as individual donations.”

“We are keenly aware that some people are unable to donate money at this time so we have set up easy ways people can help ORK that don’t cost anything,” said Meaghan Gerard, communications and administrative director. “We have a social media ambassador program, simple ways for people to contact legislators, and more on our website. We also have ideas for volunteering even while we can’t get together for group clean-ups.” 

#GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection even while practicing physical distancing. 

“As a global community, we can mourn this moment of extreme crisis while also finding the opportunity to support one another. We each have the power to make an impact with acts of generosity, no matter how small, and to ensure the sustainability of organizations and services that are crucial to the care and support of our communities,” said Asha Curran, CEO of GivingTuesday.

Follow the hashtag #GivingTuesdayNow or visit

Ogeechee Riverkeeper and Executive Director Damon Mullis is available for interviews and appearances. 

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper® 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 245 miles long, the Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,000 square miles of land. More information, volunteer opportunities, live data, and blog are at 

About GivingTuesday: GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. #GivingTuesdayNow is organized by GivingTuesday, in partnership with its global network of leaders, partners, communities and generous individuals. GivingTuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. 

Ogeechee Riverkeeper partners with Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Milliken & Company to offer live streaming water quality data

For Immediate Release

SAVANNAH, GA – May 21, 2019 – Ogeechee Riverkeeper is pleased to announce a collaborative partnership with Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and Milliken & Company.

As part of Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s ongoing efforts to establish a robust water quality monitoring program in the basin, Georgia EPD has agreed to provide two continuous water quality monitoring stations on the Ogeechee River, one upstream and the other downstream from the Milliken & Company Longleaf Plant’s discharge pipe in Screven County.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper will be responsible for maintenance and data collection, and will share the data with the public on the organization’s website. To ensure its operations do not negatively impact the health of the river, Milliken & Company will sponsor the maintenance costs of these stations. The two stations will collect pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature and conductivity data every 15 minutes and update the website.

“This is a great opportunity to show the public that an advocacy group, a regulatory agency and industry can work together to ensure that our water resources are used wisely and protected for future generations,” says Damon Mullis, Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

The ongoing, live monitoring will present new educational and engagement opportunities for the public and provide data for researchers working on the river.

“Environmental stewardship is a core value of Milliken & Company in both our products and manufacturing processes,” shared Jeff Price, president of Milliken’s Performance and Protective Textiles division. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the Georgia EPD and Ogeechee Riverkeeper for transparent methods to protect the health of the Ogeechee River.”

For more information on the stations and for future data monitoring, visit

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper

Ogeechee Riverkeeper, licensed by the Waterkeeper Alliance, works throughout the five-thousand square mile watershed to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin.


Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Damon Mullis, Riverkeeper & Executive Director
PO Box 16206
Savannah, GA 31416
Ph. 866-942-6222

Milliken & Company
Mollie Williams
Ph. 864-419-6204