More than three years have passed since the environmental dispute between the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and King America Finishing developed. We have covered this river pollution matter various times in the past on this blog. As a reminder, in May 2011, about 38,000 fish were found dead in the river in Georgia, a significant loss that ultimately was connected to environmentally destructive discharge processes at the textile plant.
Hopefully no such loss or other damage to the invaluable ecosystem will occur in the future -- thanks to a recent settlement in the water contamination lawsuit. Both sides in this important case have agreed to terms that work for the Georgia company but also the plaintiffs and all who deserve to enjoy a healthy river.
The following are just some of the terms that, according to environmental attorney Don Stack of Stack and Associates says, "...will truly make the Ogeechee the most protected and regulated river in the entire state:"
- KAF will give $2.5 million to the Ogeechee Riverkeeper to support environmental efforts for the river.
- stricter limits regarding discharge from the factory and the levels of pollutants in that discharge
- More frequent, required monitoring of pollution levels coming from KAF factory
- Third-party monitor to evaluate KAF's adherence to settlement terms for first 18 months
- Riverkeeper has right to reevaluate terms of environmental agreement every six months
Based on the above terms of the settlement, it sounds as though the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and all who depend on and enjoy the river have a little extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. It has been a long but important fight to protect the Georgia waterway and to hold a company accountable for its mistakes.
The contract between the parties is scheduled to take effect in about a month. We will be sure to post updates when there are developments in the process or regarding the impact of the new terms.
This Georgia river water pollution case is an example of how persistence, passion and the right legal help combine to make for a victory for various parties. A company remains open and, therefore, Georgia workers haven't lost their jobs. The Ogeechee Riverkeeper secured protections for the river. And, of course, the river will be better as a result of this case.
Source: Savannah Morning News, "Ogeechee polluter settles for $2.5 million," Mary Landers, Nov. 21, 2013