Ogeechee Riverkeeper: high mercury levels need to be monitored - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Ogeechee Riverkeeper: high mercury levels need to be monitored

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Even though King America Finishings has completely changed is waste water discharge processes following a settlement with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, the question is: should we worry about eating the fish from the water?

Right now the most concerning issue is high mercury levels. This is actually a state-wide issue, and not related to King America.

However, it's something that families need to be aware of, especially pregnant woman and children.

"I think they need to stop dumping in the river," said Brion Hunt, who used to fish in the Ogeechee. But after that massive fish kill back in 2011, he wont even let his children swim in the river, let alone eat the fish from it.

"I just dont trust the water, I dont trust the pollution that they're putting in the river, and I don't think its right that they pollute the river," said Hunt.

The Ogeechee riverkeeper filed a federal lawsuit against King American Finishing for dumping waste water into the Ogeechee without the proper permit.

Since then, both sides have reached a settlement. King America agreed to follow the new permit perameters on the discharge, which will include regular monitoring and reporting.

"They are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They have upgraded their waste water treatment system and they are going to continue to add upgrades and improvements so that what they're discharging should be what they're discharging," said the riverkeeper.

Additionally, the Ogeechee River keep will get $2.5 million in settlement money that will be used to continue to protect the river. Right now one of the main concerns is mercury

"So the river is still on the states 303d- impaired list for mercury. That is pretty much a state wide problem for our Georgia rivers, is mercury contamination, and that can affect pregnant woman and children especially."

The Ogeechee Riverkeeper says it recommends following the Georgia fish consumption guides, recommending that certain fish should only be eaten once a month or once a week because of the high murcury levels or other contaminates, and that woman and children need to be even more careful when consuming these types of fish.

For fishermen like Marrio Holley, he has no problem fishing recreationally.

"I do it mostly for the sport," said Holley. "If I caught something that was edible I would eat it. I dont have any reasons not to. "

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