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Residents rail against King permit

Express concerns over textile plant discharge into Ogeechee River

POSTED: May 8, 2013 10:22 a.m.

The Ogeechee River crests past the parking lot at the boat ramp on U.S. Highway 301 in this February 2013 file photo from the Statesboro Herald.

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SPRINGFIELD — Anger, concern for the environment and frustration were evident Tuesday night as residents attended a hearing regarding the Ogeechee River and a proposed permit allowing an industry to continue discharging wastewater into the river.

About 200 people attended the hearing held by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division at Effingham County High School. It wasn’t the first time for many; several people who spoke mentioned they had attended numerous EPD hearings regarding the Ogeechee River since a May 2011 fish kill left about 38,000 dead fish scattered along 70 miles of the river downstream of King America Finishing, a textiles plant in Dover, Screven County, that has been blamed for the fish kill and other river pollution issues.

EPD water qualities program manager Jane Hendricks read a statement at the beginning of the hearing, explaining that EPD rescinded an earlier draft permit for King America to discharge into the Ogeechee, citing public outcry and litigation appealing the permit.

Tuesday’s hearing was to seek public comment on a revised draft permit with more stringent mandates. As she read the statement, Hendricks said EPD has “limited ability to deny” permits, drawing several angry comments from the crowd.

King America has been operating without a permit for about seven years, an oversight by EPD that has riverfront property owners and others questioning the agency’s efficiency.

“I think the EPD should be deleted,” said Connie Shreve, who owns a riverside canoe rental business. “Y’all are not doing your jobs.”

Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn urged EPD officials: “Do not issue it as written; it’s time for you to get this permit right. A hastily written one is … not acceptable.”

Read more in the May 11 edition of the News.

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