Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has released a draft permit renewal for Milliken (formerly known as King America Finishing). The output from this facility affects the Ogeechee River.
There are five main aspects that ORK objects to in the draft permit:
- It allows for a reduction in testing of constituents.
- It allows for a reduction in testing frequency.
- It bases acceptable limits on the facility’s production levels, not the health of the river.
- A permit should not be issued without a fish tissue study, which should have already been completed under the terms of the previous permit.
- Due to the past fish kill and continued permit violations, any new permit should be more strict on toxicity.
A virtual public hearing will be held via Zoom at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
Written comments are welcomed. To ensure their consideration, written comments should be received by close of business on Friday, November 20, 2020. Please address written comments to Georgia Environmental Protection Division, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 1152E, Atlanta, GA 30334, or via e-mail at EPDcomments@dnr.ga.gov. If you choose to e-mail your comments, please be sure to include the words “NPDES Permit Issuance – King America Finishing, Inc.” in the subject line to ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff.
In May of 2011, the Ogeechee River experienced one of the largest fish kills in our state’s history. 38,000+/- fish were killed along with alligators, turtles, and birds over a 77-mile stretch of the river. This trail of devastation began in Screven County, just downstream of the discharge pipe of a textile treatment facility – King America Finishing (KAF), Inc.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) sued KAF in 2012 for violations of the Clean Water Act, arguing that the light punishment was not enough to correct KAF’s behavior in the future. After a lengthy legal battle, the lawsuit was settled in January of 2014. The settlement agreement puts in place comprehensive and stringent environmental protections and establishes programs to aid in restoration efforts along the river.
ORK is confident in the stricter permit limitations placed on the facility, as well as the comprehensive water testing plan and wastewater treatment upgrades at the plant. KAF’s stricter permit includes a 30-35% decrease in the discharge limitations on fecal coliform bacteria and sulfide, numeric limitations on color discharge and a 20% decrease in the total amount of discharge allowed to flow into the river.
King America Finishing was purchased from Westex Inc. in May of 2014 by the South Carolina-based Milliken & Co.
Hundreds meet to discuss Ogeechee River fish kill – Statesboro Herald, June 6, 2011
Ogeechee fish kill prompts lawsuit – Savannah Morning News, June 7, 2011
Ogeechee River Suffers Major Fish Kill – Georgia Outdoor Network, July 1, 2011
Company faces $1 million sanction for polluting Ogeechee – Savannah Morning News, Sept. 22, 2011
State restocks Ogeechee River after fish kill – Savannah Morning News, October 12, 2011
More Ogeechee River fish kill suits settled – Savannah Morning News, August 9, 2013
Divide remains over state’s response to Ogeechee River fish kill – Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 23, 2013
Company linked to massive Ogeechee River fish kill sold to South Carolina-based firm – Savannah Morning News, May 9, 2014
5 years after fish kill, Ogeechee on the mend – Savannah Morning News, May 31, 2016
The fishkill on Georgia’s Ogeechee River – Scalawag Magazine, May 24, 2018
8 years after fish kill, an Ogeechee update – Savannah Morning News, April 3, 2019