The battle for the health of the Ogeechee River continues over the biggest fish kill, 38,000 dead fish affecting 85 miles of the river in 2011. Ogeechee Riverkeeper standing up for the rights and health of the people of the Ogeechee River communities by getting King America Finishing KAF to shutdown the illegal use (no permit) of the river for its flame retardant dumping ground and violating the Clean Water Act. In a backroom deal with Georgia EPD, KAF agreed to pay $1 million in clean up (and to get a permit), instead of $90 million, which is hardly a slap on the wrist for the damage done, and was allowed to continue dumping.
King America Finishing had one year to address the pollution issues and they did nothing
The illegal dumping has been going on for six years. KAF had a permit to dump waste but not for the two flame retardant lines that were added. The government has done nothing to get involved and stop the dumping or to halt KAF from further destruction. KAF is owned by Chicago-based Westex and around 2006 it added two more process dumping lines. Testing revealed KAF was the main culprit of the largest fish kill May 2011, as there were also no dead fish upstream.
If KAF halts dumping until the new permit is issued, two or three years, they could be out of business by bankrupting the company. In May of last year a smaller fish kill was discovered in the same area after discolored water and dead fish were found for the July 4th holiday. In both cases landings were closed to fishing and swimming and river warnings went out by Georgia EPD for people to stay out of the river.
The Ogeechee Riverkeeper has stepped in to protect the environment and the people where the government has failed and filed suit against the EPD Director Jud Turner and it’s also the area where Turner lives. Turner claims the river is safe now since the cleanup. Turner did not appear at the hearing.
The two sides are making their appeal to two judges instead of a jury
No pun intended but that sounds awfully fishy in of itself. Elizabeth Booth program manager for the EPD admitted that KAF is illegally dumping chemicals for which it has not permit. But she also added the company has complied with regulations to monitor the levels and to reduce output when the levels drop. To allow KAF to monitor themselves is like asking a baby to guard itself from the candy jar, it won’t happen. The deal is underhanded all the way around. Georgia officials are not stepping up to the plate for the health of the community and its residents. Flame retardant is a known carcinogen.
State Atlanta law has passed a bill that says Atlanta corporations can dump just about anything
Sponsored by Senator Ross Tolleson, General Assembly State Bill 427 calls for the expedition of state dumping permits to be issued at a quicker pace by Georgia EPD. How is this going to happen? Companies with cash can pay for them, by hiring outside reviewers since Georgia EPD is experiencing so many budget cuts they can’t get to the ones already on the table. And just in time for KAF to get what they need so badly. That’s right, private consulting firms going by state guidelines will sign off on poisonous ventures just to get paid and big business gets to stay in the business of carcinogenic dumping on you and the fish, birds and all wildlife. It goes into effect July 1, 2013.
Is this supposed to make companies more responsible for the environment
KAF is dumping with little to no legal backlash or consequence, and the senate just sang in their praises of clean up during a meeting. (see Greencracker Blog, see Big Polluter gets Georgia Senate shou-tout, posted video). And the green keepers of the world want to blame the fisherman for the bomb being dropped on salt and fresh water life? How about just letting the Georgia EPD do the job it was designed to do in the first place and enforcing the laws which are in existence locally and federally to protect the waters. Turner and his staff are in charge of protecting the state’s air and water. General Assembly has done nothing but gone around the EPD to get their way. With friends like Senat. Tolleson, Georgia’s wildlife doesn’t need any enemies.
The 294-mile Ogeechee River black water runs from the Piedmont across fall line and sand hill region, to the coastal plane through beautiful cypress swamps and undeveloped forests.
Leave it to Gov. Nathan Deal who just wants to pave paradise for all the money its worth
Gov. Deal wants to dredge the river to illegal levels as part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project SHEP, including moving hundreds of acres of Savannah Wildlife Refuge and building a new reservoir (in other words another dam to clog the natural flow of fish life patterns which has gone on for centuries) for the saltwater that will creep into your backyard and water supply.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is representing the Savannah Riverkeeper to uphold denial of a South Carolina water permit on the basis that SHEP will stir up toxic levels of cadmium and dump them on the S.C. side of the river. Isn’t dredging our waters illegal because of the detriment to the species who rely on the river bottoms for food and their homes and on the endangered list? Deepening the river 38 miles to the limit of 47 miles to push closer to the ocean ports and making the river deeper for the giant super tankers. Gov. Deal is going burden the taxpayer with another $80 million to make up for the $650 million project.
Dredging to deepen the river will deplete the oxygen levels so much that it will need mechanical oxygen resuscitators called Spreece Cones. The depleted oxygen with the industrial dredging will mean nothing but disaster for the aquatic life.
The state of Georgia is missing the entire environmental issue here. Mother Nature is where the money’s at and if you don’t have any the whole state will lose. Ogeechee means “our mother.”
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