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Ogeechee meeting planned after anger spreads over EPD fish kill consent order

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, Sept. 23, 2011

SCREVEN COUNTY, Ga. -- Life on the Ogeechee River still hasn't recovered since the fish kill last May.

"Actually, every time that I've been on the river since. I may have seen a total of 10 people all summer," said Dianna Wedincamp, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

She filed an intent to sue King America Finishing, a textile plant in Screven County that she, and many others, say is responsible for the kill.

Feeling the heat from Wedincamp, another class-action lawsuit, and the EPD, King America made an announcement this week.

"A consent order was issued and agreed upon," Wedincamp said.

That consent order requires the company to invest a million dollars in improving the river. They also have to assess whether their facility needs technological upgrades.

But Wedincamp is not hearing good things from citizens there.

"They do not feel the consent order is enough. They feel like it's a slap on the wrist," she said.

She says a public meeting on the river this Sunday will channel all that anger.

"They haven't exactly told me what their message is going to be, but they do not feel the consent order is enough," she said.

She says they want King America to own up to the kill that started 50 yards downstream from their discharge pipe.

In a statement, the company maintains: "We are not aware of any operations by King America Finishing that would have adversely affected water quality or the fish in the Ogeechee River."

In a recent document, EPD also addressed who they believe is responsible: "The fish in the Ogeechee River died of Columnaris, a bacterial organism ubiquitous in the environment. The Columnaris was brought on by an environmental stress. The first dead fish were found approximately 50 yards downstream of the King America Finishing discharge; there were no fish dying of Columnaris upstream of the discharge."

Wedincamp says the lawsuits will likely continue until they can get a more straightforward answer than that.

News 12 reached out to King America Finishing. Given the lawsuits, they were not able to grant an interview.

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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