Recent water test results at the site of King America Finishing, a Screven County textiles plant under fire by Ogeechee River advocates concerned about pollution, were erroneous, according to an attorney representing the company.
Rumors that the plant is being sold are also false, said Lee DeHihns, a King America attorney.
Original test results for two toxic chemicals in groundwater samples showed elevated levels of cadmium and penanthrene, but further tests proved the original results to be false.
“Last year, King America hired a company to sample the soil and shallow groundwater at the plant,” DeHihns said. “One of the test wells did show elevated levels of one metal and one petroleum compound.”
Tests in December showed elevated levels of cadmium and penanthrene, according to Georgia Environmental Protection Division spokesman Kevin Chambers.
However, the method of testing used has been known to produce false returns, and EPD officials ordered King America to drill more wells for additional samples.
“As for cadmium, it is not used in any of the plant’s dyes and has not been found in the plant’s effluent,” DeHihns said. “Because none of the other shallow wells or the wells that supply the facility with water returned results of any concern, the company believed — and it has now been confirmed — that the samples from that well were erroneous.
The company “has agreed to install two additional permanent wells in the area of the phenanthrene and cadmium detections to take more samples,” Chambers said. “Geo-probe — the method of testing done in December — can result in false positives.”
The testing was done because of a potential “financial transaction,” he said.
The company told EPD “soil and groundwater sampling was conducted as part of activities associated with a potential transaction involving the owner of the site,” Chambers said.
DeHihns said Wednesday the plant is not changing hands at this time.
“The plant is not being sold. There was a possibility of a financial transaction in 2012 that prompted the tests, but it never materialized,” he said.
Public concern was heightened when it became known that King America Finishing was providing employees with bottled water to drink in lieu of tap water from the plant.
During a public hearing Tuesday regarding a draft permit for King America to continue discharging wastewater, many who own property along the Ogeechee River expressed anger and concern about the original test results and said they feared their own water could be contaminated.
“Why didn’t the EPD notify me of the dangers of cadmium and (penanthrene),” said Ben Anderson, who owns property close to King America’s site in Dover. “Y’all have no respect for us or care about our health. I am tired of the word ‘cancer’ – I want my wells checked. I want something done and I want it done fast.”
Many who have attended public meetings and who have filed civil actions against the plant have stated they feel chemicals discharged into the river through King America’s effluent are the cause of health issues as well as damages to the environment.
Read more in the May 11 edition of the News.