Thu., July 4, 2013 10:33am (EDT)

Ogeechee Payouts Spark Possible Lawsuit
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 1 year ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Southeast Georgia's Effingham County could become the latest property owner to sue King America Finishing.  Officials recently hired an attorney to study a case against the Screven County textile mill, which many residents blame for a massive 2011 fish kill on the Ogeechee River. (Photo Courtesy of Ogeechee Riverkeeper.)
Southeast Georgia's Effingham County could become the latest property owner to sue King America Finishing. Officials recently hired an attorney to study a case against the Screven County textile mill, which many residents blame for a massive 2011 fish kill on the Ogeechee River. (Photo Courtesy of Ogeechee Riverkeeper.)
The company at the center of legal battles over a fish kill on the Ogeechee River is reportedly making payments to area residents.

The talk of settlements has Effingham County officials also looking for a payout and hiring a lawyer for its own possible lawsuit against King America Finishing, the Screven County textile mill that many residents blame for the fish kill in 2011.

Effingham County officials say they hired the attorney after hearing about people buying new trucks and other items with King America payments.

An estimated 30,000 fish floated up dead downstream from the plant. The firm denies all ties to the fish kill. Riverfront property owner Tommy Pope said he doesn't know who got how much, but neighbors are talking about checks from King America.

"The property owners and the land owners should be able to sue them,” Pope said. “But I think that any person that utilizes the river in any manner, they should have the right to sue them, too.

A company spokeswoman said it's no secret King America has been settling cases. But the details are supposed to remain sealed.

The company faces separate ongoing lawsuits alleging Clean Water Act violations.

Pope said big checks won't help the river's health.

"I don't think it will heal the wound,” he said. “It may help some people. But I think the only thing that's going to heal the wound is for them to stop the discharge."