bolts of fabric
Credit: Capitol Beat

ATLANTA — A major textile mill in Northwest Georgia has agreed to permanently stop using a group of chemicals that provide protective coatings for its products.

Mount Vernon Mills has been discharging per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) to the city of Trion’s wastewater treatment plant. Because the plant cannot remove the chemicals, they were flowing into the Chattooga River.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), representing the environmental group Coosa River Basin Initiative, sued the mill and the city for violating both the Clean Water Act and federal laws prohibiting PFAS pollution.

The three parties entered into a proposed consent agreement this week to permanently end the use of PFAS at the mill by the end of this year. While the agreement awaits federal court approval, Mount Vernon has agreed to divert its internal waste for offsite treatment rather than send it through the city’s treatment plant.

“This agreement serves as a model for how Georgia’s textile industry can work alongside communities to ensure safer water for everyone,” said Chris Bowers, a senior attorney with the SELC. 

“Ending use of PFAS in textile production at this facility is an important step to finally dealing with ongoing contamination in our region and should serve as an example to others that there are alternatives to using these chemicals in manufacturing in the first place,” added Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s executive director.

PFAS are a class of synthetic chemicals that are known to be toxic and associated with serious health impacts. Growing research links PFAS exposure to diseases including liver and testicular cancer, liver disease, and thyroid disease.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat.