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Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 10:10am

Company Responds To Ogeechee Lawsuit

A Screven County textile mill is defending a $1 million agreement with environmental regulators over a massive May fish kill in the Ogeechee River.

The deal's critics are suing to stop the settlement.

They say, state officials let the East Georgia mill off light by not fining the company, King America Finishing, millions more in penalties.

Company officials, however, say, there's no guarantee that fines from the Environmental Protection Division would have gone to protect the river.

A statement released by the company states, in part:

It appears that the Riverkeeper also does not fully appreciate the unfortunate fact that civil penalties ostensibly paid to the Department of Natural Resources pursuant to the Georgia Water Quality Control Act actually go directly into Georgia's general fund. As a result, there is no assurance that civil penalties paid directly to EPD will actually be allocated by the Georgia General Assembly to EPD or to any environmental matters during its annual budget process.

The agreement funnels company funds to yet-unspecified projects on the Ogeechee River, soiled after the company illegally dumped waste in it for years.

The company statement says, the deal is effectively sidelined while the litigation challenges it.