No answer yet, but officials still investigating Ogeechee fish kill

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 / Friday, June 3, 2011

MILLEN---Dianna Wedincamp is the Ogeechee Riverkeeper. She's been documenting life along the river for a while now. That's why she was shocked to notice something unusual two weeks ago.

"Dead fish were polluting the river all the way down," she said.

News 12 joined her on the banks of the Ogeechee. Even though the dead fish aren't visible anymore, Wedincamp says the investigation is still ongoing.

"[Georgia Environmental Protection Division] did not come out and still has not come out with the results on what they feel like happened," she told News 12.

Wedincamp's testing is still in the works too. But she has traced the problem to a discharge pipe. She says the fish kill took its toll downstream from there.

"There were no dragonflies flying around that you always see, the minnows were gone. It's just eery not to see any wildlife," she said.

But upstream from the pipe she says the story is different.

"There's minnows, there's insects, there's fish jumping in the background," she pointed out.

The discharge pipe belongs to King America Finishing, a textile factory along the river. News 12 spoke with Georgia's Assistant EPD Director. He says they continued their investigation of the Dover, Georgia, facility today. Wedincamp tells News 12 she's also hearing from people who claim to work for King America Finishing.

"We can't confirm any of those phone calls. Until we can confirm them, we can't act on them," she said.

But she's convinced the truth will come out soon.

"It's only a matter of time; I think we're getting closer everyday, so I fell confident that we'll find out what happened, and it'll be taken care of and never happen again," Wedincamp said.

EPD lifted the swim advisory for the whole river last week, and they lifted the fish consumption advisory on Friday. Wedincamp still isn't convinced yet. She told News 12 she still won't swim in the river or eat the fish from it. She says right after the fish kill started, people were coming out of the water with rashes on their skin.

King America Finishing continues to be investigated by environmental officials the past few days. EPD says they've been cooperative so far. They have been fined by the EPD for problems in the past.

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