Wed., November 20, 2013 4:41pm (EST)

Settlements End Major Disputes On Ogeechee
By Orlando Montoya
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Updated: 8 months ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Responding to the May 2011 fish kill has been a top priority of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, the Environmental Protection Division and King America Finishing for years.  All parties expressed relief at the end of their legal disputes.  (photo Ogeechee Riverkeeper)
Responding to the May 2011 fish kill has been a top priority of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, the Environmental Protection Division and King America Finishing for years. All parties expressed relief at the end of their legal disputes. (photo Ogeechee Riverkeeper)
Major legal disputes over the Ogeechee River are coming to an end.

A Screven County textile manufacturer will give an environmental group $2.5 million to settle a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit.

The Ogeechee Riverkeeper has been fighting King America Finishing for two years.

The legal action came after the state's largest fish kill, in which more than 38,000 fish died.

An investigation revealed that the company was discharging waste illegally.

Riverkeeper attorney Don Stack says apart from the monetary payment, the company has agreed to strict ongoing monitoring and site visits.

"We all feel that the Ogeechee will now be the most protected and the most regulated river in the state of Georgia," Stack says. "And we hope that we can use the lessons learned from that as a model for other rivers in the state."

Click this link to read the full settlement between King America Finishing and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

State environmental officials separately announced they're approving King America's long-delayed wastewater discharge permit.

It comes with a $1.3 million fine.

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Jud Turner says that's $300,000 more than the penalty originally proposed two years ago.

"When we looked at what we really thought was the right package of benefits we wanted to see go to the river, that ended up being a total that was greater than $1 million," Turner says. "And, of course, it's a consent order. So we went to the company and said, 'This is what ought to be.' And they agreed."

The increased fine will pay for a more detailed list of environmental protection efforts on the river.

Those efforts will be led by Georgia Southern University.

Click this link to read the full consent order between King America Finishing and the Environmental Protection Division.

Click this link to read the Environmental Protection Division's full wastewater discharge permit for King America Finishing.

Officials at King America Finishing expressed satisfaction with the resolution.

"After a long and productive dialogue with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, we are pleased that we have finally been able to make peace with one another," said Michael Beasley, president of King America. "We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with them in the coming months and years."

The company has agreed to regular site visits and strict monitoring.