A presentation today will reveal results of a study concerning possible health effects stemming from last May’s chemical spill in the Ogeechee River.
Representatives and students with Georgia Southern University’s Nursing Department will discuss “An Exploratory Study of the Ogeechee River Chemical Spill and Subsequent Fish Kill on Human Health,” from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Statesboro Regional Library on South Main St.
The presentation will include research findings by Lynsey Johnson, Danny West, Chelsea Allen, Ryan Dyson, Ben Strozzo, and Dr. Marian Tabi, PHD, RN.
An investigation launched last May by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) after 38,000 fish floated to the banks of the Ogeechee for 70 miles south of the King America Finishing discharge pipe in Dover found King in violation of its discharge permits.
In August, EPD officials issued a consent order requiring the plant to fund $1 million in river improvements, but the Ogeechee Riverkeeper filed an appeal claiming the penalty was not severe enough. In January, Judge Lois Oakley ordered Dianna Wedincamp with the Riverkeeper, and others, to “meet with King America Finishing and work on a solution to the consent order.”
Wedincamp also will speak Saturday at the library about river pollution. While the Ogeechee once was considered one of the state’s most pristine rivers, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper organization has protested pollution from various industries for years.
While the actual cause of the fish kill was listed as columnaris, the bacterial disease is caused by environmental stress.
Test results by both private parties and the EPD revealed high levels of ammonia, formaldehyde and other chemicals in the river water.
During the past several months, GSU students and professors conducted the first research addressing human health effects possibly caused by the spill, rather than effects on wildlife.
“I am in favor of this presentation,” Weidencamp said. “It needs to be continued. Once this information is public record, anyone who wants to use the information (in a lawsuit regarding the river issue) can use it. It definitely won’t hurt them.”
The presentation at the library is free and open to the public.