GSU student study finds health issues along Ogeechee

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Dead fish lined the banks of the Ogeechee River last May. State investigators and local environmentalists pointed toward low water and oxygen levels and high levels of chemicals as the factors that killed fish by the thousands from Southern Screven through Bulloch, Bryan, Effingham to Chatham County.

But a group of Georgia Southern nursing students have said the impact goes the people who live along the banks of the river.

"We found there were a number of chronic conditions common among people who live along the river," stated Lynsey Johnson, one of the students . "G-I problems, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, skin rashes, etc."

The five nursing students and their professor teamed to collect information from those who call the river their home.

"It was all face to face, going out to Riverkeeper meetings, going door to door talking to people," explained Chelsea Allen. "It was eye opening to see how many we came across that you hadn't really heard about."

Their report doesn't accuse King America Finishing of polluting the river, even though the plant is the target of lawsuits and state EPD mandates. The students said their report is more about what steps people can take.

"Do they need to have their well water tested? Or are they just not keeping up with how much fish they're consuming?" Allen offered.

"We just need to educate the community to increase awareness and make them aware of the risk involved," Johnson noted.
The group will present their findings to the public Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Statesboro Regional Library on South Main Street. They anticipate their report will last one hour, with time afterward for questions. Diana Wedincamp, executive director of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper organization said Wednesday her organization will attend. The Riverkeeper organization has been actively involved in fighting to clean the river.

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