Bill Inspired by Fish Kill Won't Be Debated This Year - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Bill Inspired by Fish Kill Won't Be Debated This Year

Bill Inspired by Fish Kill Won't Be Debated This Year

Discharge pipe into Ogeechee River Discharge pipe into Ogeechee River

Bill Inspired by Fish Kill Won't Be Debated This Year.

The issue of the biggest fish kill in Georgia was reflected in proposed legislation this week from a group of state lawmakers. House Bill 549 would have required notification from anyone who purposefully or negligently released a discharge of pollutants that could be expected to seriously harm water and wildlife. And it would have required more specifics from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in responding to a spill, including notifying local agencies within 24 hours.

But Thursday was the last day the bill could make it through the process to be debated. And according Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markestyn, "it didn't."

Markestyn told us they initially had issues getting the bill sponsored, but she is hopeful that next year it will have even more supporters.

The 2011 fish kill resulted in about 38,000 fish being found dead. A Screven County textile plant, King America Finishing was later fined one million dollars for dumping some chemicals without a permit. About five years prior, the company has started a new fire retardant line but did not notify the state. The EPD had apparently not discovered the issue during regular inspections.

Markestyn says there is some disappointment that the bill won't be debated now some two years after the fish kill. She says a meeting Tuesday night in Effingham County on a consent order for King America produced the same results. She says "residents are still angry and the EPD is silent."

The Riverkeeper challenged the one million dollar fine when it was levied by the EPD back in the fall of 2011. Many who live along the river think the fine should have been much higher, considering the damage they say was done. A Bulloch County judge ordered the state to hold a public hearing to let the public provide input into the fine. Meanwhile, the Riverkeeper continues its legal action regarding the permit for King America, asking a judge last week to order the company to stop discharging right now because it technically does not have a permit at all.

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