Ogeechee Riverkeeper settles lawsuit with King America - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Ogeechee Riverkeeper settles lawsuit with King America


The Ogeechee Riverkeeper and King America Finishing have reached a settlement in the riverkeeper's lawsuit over the company's wastewater discharge into the Ogeechee River.

It comes two and a half year's after the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division discovered King America was dumping wastewater into the river without a permit. That happened in May 2011, while investigators were looking into the alrgest fish kill in state history.

Wednesday, the EPD announced King America has gotten its permit, and Don Stack, attorney for the Riverkeeper, laid out the terms of the settlement.

Under the permit and settlement, King America will be required to spend $4.5 million making the river healthy again and give another $2.5 million to the Riverkeeper to make sure it stays that way. King America's progress will be reviewed every six months. And after two years, the permit can be revised if the Ogeechee isn't found to be healthy enough.

"It's the permit that should've been issued two and a half years ago," Stack said. "I told my board chair today that I would have no qualms about letting my kids go in the river from this point forward."

The EPD says the discharge permit is the strictest ever issued in Georgia, setting dumping limits based on how much water is flowing down the ogeechee and also limits to how much the river's color can change before dumping has to stop.

The discharge permit issued has a minimum flow requirement of 8 percent - so the wastewater discharge cannot exceed 8 percent of the total Ogeechee River flow or the design capacity, whichever is lower, and is significant in drought conditions, according to the DNR, making King America the most highly regulated company in the state.

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