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House bill seeks more protection for state's river
Ogeechee Riverkeeper talks legislation, King to Rotary
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Executive Director Emily Markesteyn speaks Thursday with county board Chairman Jimmy Burnsed and County Manager Ray Pittman after the Rotary Club of Richmond Hills weekly meeting in the Richmond Hill City Center. - photo by Crissie Elric

Rotary Club of Richmond Hill members learned Thursday about recent efforts by the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and state lawmakers to help keep clean water flowing in Georgia.
During the group’s weekly meeting at the Richmond Hill City Center, Emily Markesteyn, executive director of the organization, updated the group on the Riverkeeper’s work with state officials during the 2013 legislative session on House Bill 549, which seeks more protection for Georgia waterways.
“I’m happy to report this past legislative session, which just ended in March, I worked really hard with our elected officials on implementing a bill on emergency response to pollution spills in our waterways,” she told the group.
The bill would put in place a mandate requiring the state Environmental Protection Division to respond to and investigate a pollution spill into a waterway in a “timely manner,” she said, and also ensure coordination between state and local emergency response teams, such as fire departments.
As an example, she told the group about a 2010 chemical spill in Trail Creek in Oconee County — a result of a fire at a nearby chemical plant. The local fire department responded to the fire, she said, and when using water to extinguish the fire, chemicals ran down into the creek, turning it “toilet bowl blue,” she said.
“We just figured if EPD had a proper response team they would have been there, and they would have already hopefully educated the fire department in what to do,” in a situation like that, Markesteyn said. “And they would have highlighted certain industries or areas that were potential spill zones, they would have trained them on how to respond and something like this wouldn’t have happened.”

Read more in the April 27 edition of the News.

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