Citizens outraged at Georgia EPD at fish kill public meeting

By: Chad Mills Email
By: Chad Mills Email

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

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, June 6, 2011

ELLABELL, Ga.—David Gay joined hundreds of other for a public meeting on the Ogeechee River fish kill on Sunday night in Bryan County.

"Nobody out here really wanted to be here under these conditions. Nobody out here wished these conditions. But, everybody out here knows that fish didn't just commit suicide one afternoon, die, and float down the river," he told News 12.

He says he's had enough.

"They say that time heals everything, but in this case, I think they may have read it wrong," he said.

He was one of the many who gathered along the Ogeechee River at the Bryan County/Effingham County line. It wasn't put together by politicians or EPD officials buy by concerned citizens like Gay.

As for what killed the fish, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has still not said. David Gay has his opinion though.

"Not pointing fingers, but it's there. It's there for a plain uneducated man and educated man to see," he said, referring to a pipe that discharges into the Ogeechee River near his property in Screven County. It's owned by King America Finishing, a textile company in Dover.

"They say that the difference between above stream of it and below stream of it is very striking," said Wayne Carney, who set up the public meeting.

He says that fish populations are normal above the pipe, but below the pipe is a different story.

"The water smelled just of death," he said.

However, he says the meeting was also set up to assess EPD's response, which Carney believes wasn't up to par.

"When they lifted the swim advisory, there was thousands, thousands of rotting fish in that water," he told News 12.

He says what has already happened, can't be undone, but his message for the future is clear.

"We want change, and we want it now," he said.

One of the speakers actually announced an effort to put together a class-action lawsuit against any entities that may have been responsible for the kill.

Of course, it's still unknown who or what caused it, and the EPD tells News 12 that the cause may never be known.

The EPD will be hosting its own public meeting this Tuesday night at 7 o'clock. That meeting will be held at Effingham County Middle School in Guyton.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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