People with an interest in the Ogeechee River will be able to offer their input about a proposed consent order for a textile mill’s pollution discharge.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will be holding a public hearing March 5 at 7 p.m. at Effingham County High School.
“The purpose of the public hearing will be to receive comments on the proposed King America Finishing Inc. consent order to address alleged violations of the Georgia Water Quality Control Act,” EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers said.
The proposed consent order includes conditions requiring King America Finishing Inc., a textiles plant in Screven County that discharges wastewater into the Ogeechee River, to implement supplemental environmental projects to benefit the river’s watershed.
An earlier consent order, challenged by civil suits and retracted by the EPD, followed findings in 2011 that King America was guilty of discharging wastewater in violation of permits and without proper permits. The findings were the result of an investigation into a massive May 2011 fish kill that left about 38,000 fish dead along more than 90 miles downriver from King America.
Columnaris, a bacterial disease caused by environmental stress, was determined to be the culprit for the fish kill. Some, including former Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp, have said the contaminants in the plant’s discharge, which include formaldehyde and ammonia, both of which were found in high amounts in river water samples after the kill, caused — or at least aggravated — the environmental stress.
Chambers said the public hearing will be confined to water quality issues relating to the consent order and officials will not allow comments about land use, zoning or any other issue.
“The public hearing is a formal process to receive comments on the proposed consent order,” he said.
EPD officials will give a brief presentation at the beginning of the hearing. People who want to comment for the record are asked to sign in upon arrival. Officials won’t directly answer questions, but questions asked by participants will be answered by EPD officials in writing at a later date, Chambers said.
Statements that are lengthy or “of a considerable technical or economic nature” should be submitted in writing for the official record, he said.
Those speaking during the hearing will be asked to limit statements to three minutes to allow everyone an opportunity to be heard.
Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. March 15. They can sent by email to EPDcomments@dnr.state.ga.us or by mail to Linda MacGregor, Watershed Protection Branch, 4220 International Parkway, Suite 101, Atlanta, GA 30354.
If emailing comments, include “proposed Consent Agreement King America Finishing (Dover, Screven County)” in the subject line to ensure the email is sent to the correct persons.
The proposed order can be viewed and downloaded at www.georgiaepd.com by clicking on the “What’s New at EPD” button, Chamber said.