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Local waterways listed among state’s worst

The annual dirty dozen list of water pollution sites in Georgia again includes the Altamaha River, which runs along the county between Long and Wayne Counties. The Wayne County bank on U.S. Highway 301 is the site of Rayonier’s Advanced Materials chemical pulp plant.

The Georgia Water Coalition began issuing its report on dangers to the State’s waters in 2011 and the Rayonier- Altamaha site has made the list eight times, more than any other. The discharge from the mill continues to discolor the river water and produce an undesirable smell.

The 2020 list includes a new hazard: debris and pollutants from the Golden Ray cargo ship stranded in St. Simons Sound since last year. Removal of the 656foot vessel is under way and steps have been taken to contain and recover any released pollutants but the long term impact remains unknown. Conservationists call for a formal National Resources Damage Assessment. An NRDA, they say, would insure that the ship’s owner, Hyundai of Japan, pays for damages.

The dirty dozen list includes another coastal site, Cumberland Island, which is near the location where Camden County officials plan to build a spaceport. According to the dirty dozen report, “residents have started a local referendum effort to stop their county commission’s ill-conceived plan to develop Spaceport Camden, a rocket launching facility that risks local homes and the Cumberland Island National Seashore.”

Other dirty dozen sites include:

• Chattahoochee River: Combined sewer overflows foul Columbus’s whitewater tourist destination.

• Etowah River: Liquid waste causes landfills to collapse, pollute local streams and river in Forsyth and Cherokee counties.

• Georgia’s Groundwater: Coal ash pollutes well water in Juliette

• Georgia’s Rivers and Streams: Landfill leachate poses risks.

• Georgia’s Rural Communities: Push to open Georgia to factory animal farm operations continues.

• Little Lotts Creek: Taxpayer funded storm water project in Statesboro to support commercial development within floodplain compromises health of creek.

• Ogeechee River: Pollution limits weakened at industry responsible for massive 2011 fish kill in Screven County.

• Okefenokee Swamp: Federal rule change opens door to mine threatening one of Georgia’s natural wonders in Charlton County.

• Satilla River: Proposed landfill risks contamination of well water, wetlands and river in Brantley County.

The entire Georgia Water Coalition report is available at:

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