Public comment period extended for Ebenezer Creek permit concerns

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - You now have a little more time to offer your thoughts and comments on a wastewater pretreatment permit application that has many in Effingham County concerned.

Last Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Division held a public comment in Springfield. More than 100 people showed up and everyone who spoke expressed caution or were completely against DRT America getting that permit.

Many, including local environmental groups and residents along Ebenezer Creek, didn't find out about the hearing until a week ago and felt they needed more time to share their thoughts on the permit with the EPD.

DRT America, LLC wants to distil crude sulfate turpentine at the facility that sits in the Effingham County Industrial Park. The company is going through a permit application process with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division to not only pretreat wastewater on site but to also send that pretreated wastewater to the nearby City of Springfield water treatment facility for further treatment, before ultimately being dispersed onto a spray field and directly discharged into Ebenezer Creek.

Environmental advocates at last Wednesday's meeting expressed concern over the amount of additional wastewater the Springfield facility would be handling from DRT, along with the quality of the water.

There was also an interest in adding more oversight.

"One of the things that I hope that they put a whole lot of effort into beyond all of the other permitting, is working on creating citizen advisory groups that bring people together. Because we have found time and time again that when the company has to sit down with the people downstream on a regular basis, not only does it hold them true, but the truth really gets out, and there's an active conversation," said Tonya Bonitatibus, with the Savannah Riverkeeper group.

The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority released a statement:

The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority (ECIDA) is committed to working with industry and community stakeholders to ensure that proper and proactive measures are in place to protect the integrity of our community's natural assets. As DRT America, LLC (DRT) has been engaged in a multiple year process to obtain a permit to pretreat their wastewater on site, we have heard many concerns from stakeholders in the community and beyond. Some misleading information was recently posted on social media regarding the quality of the effluent water that will be discharged to the City of Springfield's wastewater treatment facility from the wastewater treatment facility at DRT. This information was addressed and corrected at a public hearing held by Georgia EPD in Springfield on Wednesday, May 17th. Other legitimate concerns were raised through the public hearing process and those concerns will be addressed by Georgia EPD through their permit review process. ECIDA plans to stay on top of this issue as it progresses and plans to work with both company officials and stakeholders to continue to address any lingering concerns.

With the Savannah Harbor Expansion project bringing in more industry, the Savannah Riverkeeper group says this is just one of many permits the public should be aware of.

Again, the public comment period for pretreatment at the DRT facility has been extended to this Friday, May 26 at the close of business.

You can provide feedback via email to with "NPDES> Permit Issuance – DRT America, LLC" in the subject line or by mail to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division at 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 1152E, Atlanta, GA 30334.

Please click here to download the draft permit.

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