Although the EPD and EPA concluded the fish were killed last year by bacteria, EPD director Judson Turner said in a letter last January to Ga. Senator Jack Hill (R-4th District) that EPD had "traced the problem to King America Finishing," which, before the kill, had been discharging wastewater from its fire-retardant fabric production line without a permit.
Last fall the EPD and King America Finishing entered into a consent agreement in which the EPD more tightly regulated KAF's discharge to meet all water quality standards and stepped up the requirements that it monitor its own discharge. Chambers said the company's discharge is meeting those new standards.
The Ogeechee Riverkeeper environmental group has filed suit against the EPD challenging the consent order. King American Finishing has denied any link to the fish kills, which have all taken place below its discharge, but concerns about the river continue. The Riverkeeper said its own tests have found what it claims are unacceptably high levels of ammonia in the water downstream of the King America Finishing discharge.
Hundreds of people attended a public hearing in June over the EPD issuing a permit to the company that will allow it to continue to discharge from the fire retardant line. Many voiced opposition to EPD issuing a permit. They claim the company's discharge has destroyed aquatic life along the river, which the state re-stocked after last year's kill.
Last year's spill prompted several civil suits filed against King America Finishing by people who claim they have been harmed by the company's discharge.
Effingham EMA director Ed Myrick said in announcing the latest advisory "it is apparent that the pollutants in the Ogeechee River are continuing to be an ongoing problem and may always be until the Northern portions of the river are reclassified. I sympathize with the businesses that depend on the Ogeechee River for income, but we must look after the health and safety of everyone involved."