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No more mercury in Ogeechee River
News editorial
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The Ogeechee River’s name is believed to come from the Creek Indian word meaning “our mother.”
This rambling, slow-moving black water river gets its distinctive tea-color from the wetlands it winds through on its way to the Atlantic. It has provided Georgians with everything from food to recreation opportunities for generations.
Sadly, the Ogeechee is among the 10 most endangered  places in the South, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.
As is usually the case, the reason is man. As mercury in ashes from coal-burning power plants and other sources falls into the water, it becomes methylmercury and enters the food chain — making the fish unsafe to eat.
According to recent studies, the Ogeechee River has mercury levels that put it among the highest in the country.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Chandra Brown put it this way: “On a scale of one (good) to 10 (don’t eat the fish) in mercury pollution, the Ogeechee River would rank an eight. You should limit the amount of largemouth bass to one meal a month and smaller fish to only one meal a week.  That’s just unacceptable,” she said.
We agree. But there are still those who want to add more mercury to the Ogeechee.
Environmentalists currently are fighting a proposed coal-fired power plant in Washington County. And British manufacturer Firth Rixson, which recently set up shop in Liberty County’s Tradeport East business park, has applied to the EPD for a permit to add more mercury to the river.
Brown notes the amount Firth Rixson seeks to discharge is minimal, but “if we already have too much, we should not permit one more drop.”
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