An article posted on the Ogeechee Riverkeeper website and repeated below is more proof that the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is regularly failing to do its job.
I suspect underfunding and the resultant lack of adequate numbers of personnel and equipment to handle the tasks assigned are major factors in the failure of the DNR and its subdivisions to function more effectively. The purse strings are politically controlled and, in my opinion, political interference is a major factor in the diminished ability of the DNR/EPD to carry out their very important tasks, which are vital to the health, quality of life and well-being of every citizen of Georgia.
The hands of many dedicated individuals within the organization are politically tied. It seemed to be the case under the past governor and appears to be business as usual under the present administration. Shame on the political leadership of this state. I don’t care how busy they are with the budget. They can stop patting themselves on the back. It appears that our environment, water and air remain vulnerable to all comers.
Let me remind you of the recent absolutely absurd attempt by Liberty County to build a wastewater treatment plant designed to dump 3.2 million gallons of treated sewage directly into the salt marsh. It would have been an unprecedented unbelievably stupid act. It reeked of bad science, cover-up and incompetency.
The EPD approved of the process from start to finish. I don’t think it had a choice but to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Its marching orders came from the highest level of state government. It seemed to be all about money and paying off political debt rather than protecting the environment. A tremendous effort on the part of the public supported by scientific fact made no difference. The project was stopped by money problems, but the permit never was denied. It remains a threat.
The source of the pollution of the Ogeechee River, which recently caused the massive fish kill, has been essentially reported by the EPD as a complete mystery. Actually, the source is as obvious as the nose on the governor’s face. It seems obvious that King America Finishing is polluting the Ogeechee River. Apparently, it has been doing so with complete immunity for at least nine years.
Who owns King America? Who owns the land where the plant sits? Why are they being given a free hand to discharge pollutants directly into the Ogeechee River? Even now, after the fish kill and the exposure to the public, they continue to do so. I have to think they are quite comfortable in their position regarding the possibility of enforcement by the DNR/EPD. Follow the money. Show me who your friends are.
The Internet states that the plant employs one to four people. It does $500,000 to $1 million in sales every year. It is incorporated in Illinois. It has an office in Statesboro, and the plant is in Dover. It has been in business in Georgia since 2001. That means it has been polluting since the day it opened. It begs the question: How many more plants like this operate with immunity in Georgia?
The following is an article posted on the website of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper:
“Dear Ogeechee Riverkeeper supporters,
“This week 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, Ga.
“In the wake of the massive fish kill in May of this year, we stepped up our monitoring and testing of water and sediment in the river. Those tests revealed elevated levels of multiple pollutants at and downstream from King America Finishing’s discharge pipe. Ogeechee Riverkeeper, in keeping with its mission, is demanding that the discharges in violation of Georgia water quality standards cease.
“King America Finishing Inc. is in violation of the Clean Water Act because of the ongoing unpermitted discharges from its textile facility, which is operating under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit number GA0003280.
“King America Finishing Inc. is discharging color, ammonia and formaldehyde in violation of its permit and Georgia water quality standards. In addition, the plant’s discharges are in violation of state water quality and numeric permit limits for pH.
“Georgia’s state water-quality standards require that ‘all waters shall be free from material related to municipal, industrial or other discharges which produce turbidity, color, odor or other objectionable conditions which interfere with legitimate water uses.’ King America Finishing Inc.’s permit specifically states that the permittee ‘may not discharge toxic pollutants in concentrations or combinations that are harmful to humans, animals or aquatic life.’
“‘We’ve received complaints from citizens about this site going back to 2002. Unfortunately, repeated complaints to state and federal agencies have failed to adequately address the problems with this discharge,’ Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp said. ‘By bringing this litigation, which will be costly and time-consuming for our organization, we hope to prevent King America Finishing Inc. from causing future harm to the Ogeechee River.’”
Get involved. Call your political representation and ask for answers. It is absolutely ridiculous that a volunteer citizens group has to file a suit to get the state to fulfill its obligations to its citizenry.
Hubbard lives in Richmond Hill and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.