On Tuesday, residents got a chance to chime in on the punishment that King America Finishing received for the biggest fish kill ever in Georgia. The hearing, which took place at Effingham County High School, was centered around the Environmental Protection Division's $1 million consent order.
"This is what the Environmental Protection Division says is okay in the State of Georgia," said Al Riggers as he held a algae covered stick.
Residents are still outraged after King America Finishing was found to have been illegally dumping fire retardant into the river for years, killing 40,000 fish. The EPD fined King America Finishing $1 million and ordered them to spend the money on projects to rebuild the Ogeechee.
"We are here in support of the waste water treatment plant project in Millen," said Millen City Manager Lamar Faircloth. "It will help the city of Millen control water outflow of the waste water treatment pond, which is in charge of the discharge of water going into the Ogeechee. This is the only project that is benefiting the Ogeechee."
"We don't think this consent order gives any meaningful reprimand to what King has done for nearly seven years," said Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn. "The three environmental projects, while they are good within themselves, it has nothing to do with King Finishing and what they have done to the river and what they should do to fix it."
Last year, a judge determined that the agreement made between the EPD and King America Finishing was not valid because there was never a public hearing.
"They should be spending the $1 million on the equipment to clean the water up that they are polluting," said one resident.
People along the Ogeechee say they don't trust King America and they don't trust the EPD will give the correct punishment.
"King America Finishing has about destroyed the quality of the river," said Tom Bridges. "The eco-system is dead. Algae has taken over the river. It is just an ecological disaster and King America Finishing continues to dump in the river and nothing is being done about it."
The EPD says they will consider the comments made and continue to accept more until March 15. They will make a decision on the consent order in a couple of months.