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Date: Thu 7 Jun 2012
Source: AJC.com [edited]

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division said on Wednesday [6 Jun 2012] that a recent fish kill on the Ogeechee River in south east Georgia likely was caused by the drought conditions of low stream flow levels and high water temperatures. But an "exact cause will never be known," said the agency, following a 2-week investigation.

All of the approximately 100 dead fish found were downstream of the discharge pipe of the King America Finishing Plant near Statesboro.
Last year [2011], about 38 000 fish died along a stretch of 70 miles downstream of the company's discharge.

An Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and US Environmental Protection Agency investigation concluded last year [2011] that that kill was caused by a combination of low river levels, high temperatures, and pollutants, which weakened fish, which then died of the bacterial disease columnaris. The investigation did not connect the kill to the KAF discharge.

But, last January [2012], in a letter to Georgia State Senator Jack Hill (R-4th District), EPD director Judson Turner wrote that EPD had "traced the problem to King America Finishing," which for years had been discharging waste water from its fire-retardant fabric production line without a permit.

In September of 2011, EPD and KAF signed a consent order imposing a USD one million penalty on the company, requiring it to improve its discharge and increase the self-monitoring of its discharge.

The EPD said in a press release on Wednesday [6 Jun 2012] that water samples taken and analyzed since the recent kill "show the river is meeting water quality standards." EPD said the fish died from columnaris and aeromonus bacteria. "Environmental stressors such as high temperatures and low water flow make fish more susceptible to disease," said the EPD.

Flow in the Ogeechee River dropped to 60-70 cubic feet per second in May [2012]. The historical average stream flow needed to support healthy fish is 127 cubic feet per second, said EPD. Water temperatures also have risen above 80 F, which contributes to health problems for fish, according to the agency.

Following the recent fish kill, EPD took water samples on 24 May 2012 from the river at Rocky Ford, the King America Finishing plant, US highway 301, route 24, route 204 and US highway 17. Lab tests were conducted for ammonia, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, color, conductivity, formaldehyde, pH, metals including sodium and chromium, sulfide, total recoverable phenolics, total suspended solids, total Kjehldahl nitrogen, total phosphorus, nitrate/nitrite, hardness, turbidity, and total coliform.

EPD also conducted an extensive inspection of the King America Finishing facility in late May [2012]. That included analysis of discharge monitoring reports, inspecting production and waste water treatment operations and water sampling at the plant's discharge point in the river. EPD determined the plant is operating in compliance with current requirements.

Effingham, Bulloch, and Bryan counties on Wednesday [6 Jun 2012] lifted their advisory to stay out of the river. The EPD is holding a public hearing on 12 Jun 2012 on issuing King America Finishing a permit to discharge into the Ogeechee from its fire retardant fabric production line.

[byline: Jeffry Scott]

communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[A number of chemicals and parameters were tested in water samples, according to the text, but there is no mention of the results. It would be interesting to know whether postmortem examinations and histopathology were conducted on the dead fish to determine the cause of death. It is not entirely clear whether the fish died of columnaris disease.

A ProMED-mail/HealthMap of the affected area can be accessed at <http://healthmap.org/r/2u90>. - Mod.PMB]

[see also:
Die-off, fish - USA (02): (GA) comment 20120601.1153265 Die-off, fish - USA: (GA) pollution susp. 20120531.1152141
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA (02): (GA) columnaris 20110528.1641 2010
Undiagnosed fish die-off - USA (04): (WV, OH, PA) columnaris
Columnaris disease, fish - USA 20091111.3908
Columnaris, white bass - USA (Kansas) 19990713.1178] .................................................sb/pmb/msp/sh/ll
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