Bryan County has become the second county to authorize a Savannah-based law firm to look into whether it has a case against King America Finishing, the Screven County plant blamed for the largest recorded fish kill in Ogeechee River history.
Bryan County Commissioners last week joined Effingham County in authorizing Oliver Maner to look into options regarding KAF, which for several years discharged unpermitted pollutants into the Ogeechee River.
Effingham hired Oliver Maner in June to investigate whether it could sue the plant, which manufactures flame retardant for fabrics.
Bryan County doesn’t own property on the river, Bryan County Administrator Ray Pittman said, but it does share a number of facilities with the state Department of Natural Resources and maintains them for recreational purposes.
Pittman said he couldn’t discuss specifics because the case is under investigation, but he acknowledged there’s a need to move quickly.
“They haven’t given a date, but they’re working pretty fast,” he said.
Once attorneys finish their investigation, they’ll bring their findings to the commission, which would then decide whether to pursue a case, Pittman said. The investigation isn’t costing taxpayers, he noted. The firm will be paid if a settlement is reached.
In May 2011, some 38,000 fish were killed downstream from a discharge pipe belonging to King America Finishing.
Currently, KAF, the state Enviromental Protection Division, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and a number of property owners are among the parties wrangling in court over KAF’s permit to continue dumping into the river.
The plant reportedly illegally discharged pollutants for several years and the fallout has held up at least one local project — approval of Richmond Hill’s new wastewater treatment plant is on hold until the KAF issue is settled, according to the city.