It sure is disappointing to think the Georgia Environmental Protection Division would issue a discharge permit to a company that has been illegally dumping in the Ogeechee River for years and likely even caused a massive fish kill a little more than a year ago. In fact, it seems unthinkable.
But the unthinkable became reality last week when the EPD did just that and granted Dover textiles plant King America Finishing a permit to discharge sulfides, sodium, ammonia, formaldehyde and peroxide into the water. This, after all, is the plant that has been illegally discharging chemicals into the river since 2007 and is believed by many to be the direct cause of last year’s fish kill that saw around 38,000 bloated and sore-pocked fish float to the surface along 70 miles of the Ogeechee.
Whose side is the EPD on? Granted, requirements of the permit include daily testing of water from the discharge pipe, rather than water that has already mixed into the river, for the aforementioned chemicals. Additionally, color must be monitored weekly, a functioning alarm is supposed be in place to alert employees when the pH level is approaching limits and no visible solids or foam may be discharged. Also, King America now has deadlines for (1) submitting a plan for compliance as well as (2) actually complying with the permit.
That’s all fine and good, but isn’t that the way it should have been from the very beginning? Just uttering the name King America leaves a bad taste on many an Ogeechee lover’s tongue. But if this really is how Georgia reprimands a company that blatantly turned a blind eye to state requirements and has complete disregard for the environment, what kind of taste does the permit give the EPD? In our opinion, it isn’t very good.