The Altamaha Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Rayonier Inc. and Rayonier Performance Fibers LLC alleging that discharge into the Altamaha River from the company's Jesup-based pulp mill is violating clean water standards.
The discharge of up to 60 million gallons per day, which is described as "dark and foul smelling", renders fish inedible for several miles downstream and is visible in the river from the air, according to a news release from the riverkeeper.
The lawsuit was, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. It seeks an injunction from the court to stop the illegal discharge and penalties for the Rayonier's ongoing violations, according to the news release. The Altamaha Riverkeeper is represented by GreenLaw, Stack & Associates and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
"We are disappointed that we had to pursue litigation, but we are committed to protecting this vital river. We remain hopeful that this problem can be resolved outside of court, but we are prepared, if necessary, to see this through," said ARK CEO & Riverkeeper Brian Lucy in a statement.
The Jesup mill produces approximately 670,000 metric tons of cellulose absorbent materials per year and the waste output from the process of making the materials "is substantial", according to the riverkeeper.
Most of Rayonier's competitors have either installed, or are in the process of installing, Activated Sludge Treatment technology to treat their waste.