Agreement protects Flint River tributaries from textile pollution

Southern Mills sits alongside Georgia’s Flint River. (© Beth Young)

A federal judge has approved a settlement in a lawsuit against a textile manufacturer in Georgia that will clean up wastewater produced by the plant. The suit was brought by SELC on behalf of Flint Riverkeeper.

Under the consent decree, Southern Mills, which manufactures fire-resistant fabrics, agreed to meet new pollution limits for wastewater it sprays on fields near its Molena plant. The plant uses a series of aerated ponds to treat wastewater before spraying it onto large spray fields — which is supposed to further filter the water and remove contaminants as the water is taken up by plants and absorbed by soil.

The lawsuit alleged that pollution was reaching groundwater and tributaries of the Flint River at levels exceeding permit limits. The company denied that, but agreed to new effluent limits and improvements to its wastewater treatment system.

We are pleased the company has worked with us and the private property owners to resolve this case,” said Gordon Rogers, executive director of Flint Riverkeeper. “The new effluent limits and improvements to the company’s wastewater treatment system should substantially improve water quality, both for the waters immediately adjacent to the site and for nearby tributaries. The improvements also may have the ancillary benefit of controlling odors near the plant.”

Under the consent decree, Southern Mills will construct significant improvements to its aeration ponds and wastewater pretreatment system so that the water applied to the spray fields will have fewer contaminants. The spray fields will also be improved to increase their treatment capacity.

SELC represented Flint Riverkeeper along with Stack and Associates, an Atlanta law firm that additionally represented nearby property owners.

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