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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 12:40pm

Ogeechee Textile Mill Permit Revoked

State environmental officials are rescinding a waste discharge permit issued to a Screven county textile mill.

The Environmental Protection Division also detailed projects the mill has to finish on southeast Georgia's Ogeechee River.

The EPD's Jim Ussery says, the agency is ordering a new analysis before allowing a new permit to take effect.

"Everything in this permit actually reduces the loadings allowed in the 2000 permit," Ussery says. "But trying to minimize the delay that can result from litigation in such matters, we've withdrawn the permit."

The King America plant illegally dumped waste into the river for years.

Despite that, in August the EPD gave the company a new discharge permit.

Now, the agency is taking the permit back and ordering a new analysis.

Lawyer Hutton Brown representing Ogeechee Riverkeeper says he's pleased with the news but not ready to declare victory.

"I don't have that level of optimism yet," Brown says, "We've been screaming about this for over a year. And it hasn't stopped yet."

Brown says, he now plans to ask a judge to stop the pollution.

"I think we'll also appeal to EPD to make them stop," Brown says. "EPD's in the best position to do that. And I think that we can point out that by their own admission there is no valid permit here."

Nearly 40,000 fish died downstream from the mill last year.

EPD has ordered the firm to complete a million dollars in river improvement projects -- now specified in an order out for public comment through next month.

The new order requires KAF to complete the following SEPs totaling approximately $1 million:

-- Third party monitoring of the facility’s discharge for a duration of 18 months at a cost of $75,000.

-- Improvements to the City of Millen wastewater treatment plant to be completed in 12 months at a cost of $158,609. The facility discharges to the Ogeechee River.

-- The Ogeechee River Research Proposal involves Georgia Southern University in establishing a nature center to study the ecology of the Ogeechee River. This must be completed in 36 months at a cost of $766,391.

If KAF does not complete the approved SEP projects within the specified time frame, the company must pay the state the penalty in cash.