Friday, Oct. 21, 2011
ATLANTA -- On Friday morning, Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp decided that enough was enough. She's unhappy with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's response with not one, but now two fish kills taking place only months apart.
The first one is now considered the largest fish kill in state history. In May 2011, more than 33,000 fish washed up dead in the Ogeechee River. Just days ago, thousands more are dying in an unrelated kill near the Richmond/Burke County line.
"EPD left us with no choice but to file this lawsuit," said Wedincamp, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.
In September 2011, the EPD entered into a consent order with King America Finishing, a textile company in Dover, Ga. The 33,000 dead fish were all found starting half a mile down from its emission pipe into the river -- from Screven County to Chatham County. The company is required to pay back $1 million in improving the Ogeechee River. They also have to assess whether their facility needs technological upgrades.
However, the consent order does not state that King America was responsible for the kill.
“Citizens throughout the basin are simply outraged that the state not only failed to prevent this catastrophe, but is excluding those most impacted by the catastrophe at every turn. King Finishing seems to be EPD’s priority, not the citizens who live, work and play along the Ogeechee River," Wedincamp said.
They say the consent order simply gives them a "free pass" to continue violating environmental regulations. They also question whether the kill would have happened if EPD had been conducting more checks of the textile plant in the first place.
Aside from this lawsuit, there is also a separate class-action lawsuit against the company itself.