Your Donations Make a Difference
GreenLaw helps protect our natural resources from illegal pollution by utilizing state and federal laws to bring offenders to trial with the support of people like you.
Make a Donation Join our eNews
 

Fighting to Save the Ogeechee River
GreenLaw represents Ogeechee Riverkeeper in efforts to stop pollution following historic fish kill in 2011
Update September 2012: Despite the concerns of thousands of Georgians, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a pollution permit for the King America Finishing that allows excessive ammonia, formaldehyde and other chemicals into the river. GreenLaw and Stack and Associates, on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, filed an appeal of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s issuance of a water pollution permit for King America Finishing.

GreenLaw filed comments opposing King America Finishing's air pollution permit.


In May 2011, Dianna Wedincamp, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, received hundreds of calls from fishermen, paddlers, and families out enjoying the Ogeechee River that something was terribly wrong.

Over 33,000 dead and dying fish were washing up on the banks of the river just as people were preparing to spend a Memorial Day weekend fishing, sunning and swimming along this beautiful south Georgia river.   An investigation of the fish kill by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division resulted in the discovery that the lone industrial discharge into the Ogeeechee River, King America Finishing, had been illegally discharging from a flame retardant processing line into the river for over 5 years.  

After uncovering this illegal pollution source, state regulators entered into an agreeement with King America Finishing which allowed the company to continue its unpermitted discharge from the fire retardant line into the Ogeechee River.  The agreement also imposed a $1 million supplemental environmental project, a small fraction of the $91 million in fines that the industry could have been required to pay under the Clean Water Act.  This backroom deal was reached with no input from the public.

GreenLaw represents the local river advocacy group, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, in an effort stop the pollution and challenge the state's poor handling of the largest fish kill in state history.  

We provide our legal expertise free of charge to give the Ogeechee River, the people who use it, and all of Georgia's natural resources their day in court.  Please make a contribution to support clean water.

Donate to GreenLaw today
 

Save the Ogeechee River from pollution. Sign the petition, help pass a local resolution, and make a difference for the river today!
Atlanta, GA - GreenLaw and Stack and Associates, on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, filed an appeal of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s issuance of a water pollution permit for King America Finishing
Mary Landers, Savannah Morning News, September 7, 2012:

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has cut short a study of whether the federal government should crack down on pollution of the Ogeechee River.

Atlanta, GA - GreenLaw, on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Inc., submitted comments on King America Finishing, Inc.'s (King America) Draft Title V Permit. The Title V permit is supposed to limit air pollution from King America's Dover facility, which sits near the Ogeechee River, the site of a massive fish kill in May 2011.
Savannah Morning News, August 15, 2012: By WALTER C. JONES
MARIETTA — Sen. Johnny Isakson is reviewing whether to call for federal involvement in blocking a permit to discharge into the Ogeechee River by King America Finishing.

August 10, 2012: Despite the opposition of thousands of Georgians, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a pollution permit allowing King America Finishing to continue discharging excessive levels of ammonia, formaldehyde and other chemicals into the Ogeechee River.
July 24, 2012: Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by GreenLaw and Stack and Associates, filed a lawsuit in federal court against King America Finishing, Inc. for violations of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit alleges that King America Finishing continues illegally to discharge pollution to the Ogeechee River.
Update July 2012: River landings on the Ogeechee were closed after fish with sores turned up on them over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. GreenLaw and Stack and Associates successfully argued an appeal of an administrative law judge's ruling and filed a Clean Water Act case against King America Finishing to stop pollution of the Ogeechee River.
On July 19, 2012, Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John Turner granted the Ogeechee Riverkeeper total victory in its challenge to a Consent Order entered into by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and King America Finishing, a Chicago-based textile manufacturer that discharges into the Ogeechee River.
By Mary Landers, Savannah Morning News, July 23, 2012:

A Bulloch County Superior Court judge sided with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper Monday, invalidating what many see as the state’s weak punishment of textile processor King America Finishing and upholding the right of the nonprofit to challenge the EPD’s actions.

In his four-page decision Judge John R. Turner wrote “it is the finding of this Court that the Consent Order is invalid for a lack of public hearing and that the Ogeechee Riverkeeper has standing to bring this action.”

The Savannah Morning News, July 6, 2012. By Mary Landers.

When a nearly 3-foot-long catfish was found blistered and dead in the Ogeechee River on Independence Day, Effingham County Emergency Manager Ed Myrick decided to act.

He issued an advisory on Thursday telling residents not to swim or fish in the river until further notice.

Auburn University Fisheries Professor Dr. Alan Wilson issues a statement on the likely causes of the historic Ogeechee River fish kill, and the contamination from King America Finishing. Dr. Wilson contends that the lack of dead fish above the industrial pollution discharge and the amount of ammonia recorded during the historic fish kill in May 2011 are clear evidence that the pollution discharge from King America Finishing was responsible for the fish kill.
June 2012: DNR and several counties closed the Ogeechee River to fishing and swimming due to evidence of another fish kill. This closure went into effect for areas downstream of King America Finishing just before Memorial Day weekend and comes nearly one year after the largest fish kill in Georgia history occurred on this south Georgia river. DNR reports that no dead fish were found upstream of the pollution discharge from King America Finishing.
Statesboro, GA -- On April 18, 2012 Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) filed an appeal in Superior Court of Bulloch County. The organization appealed an administrative law judge’s decision which prevented Ogeechee Riverkeeper from challenging a Consent Order entered into between the State and King America Finishing in Screven County, GA. King America Finishing’s discharge into the Ogeechee River has been associated with the biggest fish kill in Georgia history.
Atlanta, GA: On March 20, 2012, a judge in Atlanta ruled that citizens have no right to challenge the state’s handling of the largest fish kill in Georgia’s history. Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by the public interest law firm, GreenLaw, and the environmental law firm, Stack & Associates, had filed a legal challenge to the state environmental agency’s handling of the largest fish kill in state history. While Judge Lois Oakley, who issued the decision, found that Ogeechee Riverkeeper members were injured by the fish kill, she nevertheless rejected their case finding that Ogeechee Riverkeeper could not show that its members had been harmed by the agency’s decision
GreenLaw submitted comments on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper outlining deficiencies in the permits for the wastewater discharge of King America Finishing to the Ogeechee River. Problems with the proposed discharge permit include the failure to include permit limits for pollutants, failure to require third party monitoring, and failure to require monitoring for sulfate or mercury.
9/21/2011 - The State Environmental Protection Division issued a consent order addressing violations from a plant on the Ogeechee River that is likely responsible for the massive fish kill that occurred in May of this year. The consent order requires King America Finishing, which operates a woven fabric finishing plant located on the Ogeechee River, to do a Supplemental Environmental Project worth $1 million.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper dead fish
Dead fish in the Ogeechee. Photo courtesy: Ogeechee Riverkeeper
   Print VersionBookmark and Share

 

Paddling the Ogeechee River August 2009
Paddling the Ogeechee River, August 2009. Photo by Chandra Brown.
Contacts
Hutton Brown
404-659-3122  Senior Attorney, GreenLaw

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield
404-659-3122  Executive Director, GreenLaw

Ogeechee River fish sores GPB
Fish in the Ogeechee River began turning up with sores and dying in May 2011. The historic fish kill ended up with over 33,000 dead fish and a summer lost to south Georgia fisherman. A year later in May 2012 another fish kill was reported. Photo courtesy Georgia Public Broadcasting Flickr photostream.
Paddling the Ogeechee River 2009
Paddling the Ogeechee River in 2009. Photo by Chandra Brown
  © 2011 GreenLaw, Inc.