The Flint Riverkeeper and nearby neighbors have announced plans to sue a central west Georgia textile company they say is polluting the river and its tributaries.
The riverkeeper and four Upson County residents have served TenCate Protective Fabrics with a 60-day notice of intent to sue. They say the company's plant in neighboring Pike County is violating the federal Clean Water Act by releasing polluted industrial wastewater into Spring and Elkins creeks, which flow into the nearby Flint River.
Greenlaw attorney Hutton Brown filed the notice on behalf of the riverkeeper and the Upson residents.
“The way [TenCate] gets rid of their wastewater by spraying it onto fields is illegal because the spray discharges off their property and on to neighboring properties,” Brown said.
The notice is a legal precursor to filing a lawsuit and gives both parties time to resolve the issue.
Flint riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said the river now “smells different, the texture of the sediment is different, and the chemical composition of the water itself is different.”
“The changes are not the massive, headline-grabbing sorts of things,” Rogers said. “It's just day-after-day chronic pollution that these organisms are swimming in and drinking.”
TenCate produces protective clothing for fire fighters, military and industrial workers.
The company didn't respond to calls or emails before time of publish.
**Update, 7:40 a.m. 4/26**
In a prepared statement, TenCate said, "Like other water treatment systems in Georgia, this water treatment system has been inspected and permitted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division since it began operating. The treatment system has undergone many improvements since it began operation, and the company invested significant capital improvements to this system as part of its review and reauthorization by the State of Georgia in 2014."
While the company said it doesn't comment regarding existing or potential litigation, it went on to say, "TenCate Protective Fabrics remains committed to conducting its business activities in compliance with the laws that protect our communities and environment in which we live and work."