EPD actively investigating Screven County textile plant weeks after massive fish kill

Dead fish have been cropping up in the Ogeechee River. (May, 2011)

Dead fish have been cropping up in the Ogeechee River. (May, 2011)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, July 16, 2011

DOVER, Ga. -- The dead fish are gone, and the swimmers are back.

David Gay isn't one of them.

"We go down and, like I said, and we'll take a gallon or two of water a piece, and when we through, we'll just, instead of getting in the water, we'll just pour the water on ourselves," he told News 12.

He owns 157 acres along the river. He says the waters that were once teaming with fish are quite different now.

"We're starting to see some minnows come back, but as of yet, I haven't seen any turtles, I haven't seen any alligators of lately. I guess it'll take time for, you know, Mother Nature to run her course," he said.

It all comes after the massive fish kill. About 30,000 dead fish washed up from Screven County to Savannah. They were found starting half a mile downstream from a discharge pipe owned by King American Finishing, Inc., a textile plant in Dover, Georgia. Gay says that it's too much of a coincidence, but the Georgia Environmental Protection Division hasn't blamed anyone yet.

"I don't know if they're just too scared to say anything. There was one gentleman at the table who really did a good job. He put his finger right on it. He said the insemination point, in not so many words, was right there at the pipe," he said.

Some people there are so frustrated with the lack of answers that they've turned to the legal system.

"Firm out of Atlanta has taken on a class-action. I'm sad to say that, because, you know, God when the lawyers get involved, you know, you just wonder what's going to happen," Gay said.

He wishes the lawyer luck, though.

"He's gathering every bit of information that he can from illness, to discharges, to possibly subpoenaing the employees and putting them under oath for testimony," he said.

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, tells News 12 that EPD is still actively monitoring and investigating King America Finishing, and they're confident they'll get to the bottom of it. He said King America has been cooperative with EPD so far. The Georgia Attorney General's Office has also been involved.

F. Edwin Hallman Jr., of the Hallman & Wingate firm out of Marietta, filed the class-action lawsuit. He also sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Division demanding answers. He tells News 12 that the EPD has yet to respond to the letter. A copy of the letter can be found above.


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