Flint Riverkeeper and Local Property Owners File Federal Clean Water Act Lawsuit Against TenCate Textile Facility to Stop Pollution of Tributaries of Flint River


Media Contacts:

Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper, 912-223-6761

Hutton Brown, GreenLaw, 404-659-3122, Ext. 226

Don Stack, Stack & Associates, P.C., 404-525-9205

Flint Riverkeeper and Local Property Owners File Federal Clean Water Act Lawsuit Against TenCate Textile Facility to Stop Pollution of Tributaries of Flint River

Molena, Upson County, GA – Two sets of local property owners and the Flint Riverkeeper filed a federal lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, against Southern Mills, Inc, doing business as TenCate Protective Fabrics. The suit was filed under the federal Clean Water Act for violations resulting from ongoing discharge of pollutants into tributaries of the Flint River and onto the owners’ properties from a TenCate fabric dyeing and finishing plant near Molena, Georgia.

TenCate is an international manufacturer of protective fabrics, synthetic turf, and other products with its corporate headquarters and three facilities in Georgia. The chemicals used at the Molena plant are treated by partial oxidation and then discharged to spray fields pursuant to a land application system (“LAS”) permit issued by Georgia Environmental Protection Division (“EPD”).

A LAS (also called a “sprayfield”) is designed for pollutants to be removed by plants and soil before entering adjacent water bodies. A properly designed and operated LAS produces a percolate water of high quality that protects ground and surface water resources. A spray irrigation system is typically used to apply all or a portion of the treated wastewater to approved sites.

The Riverkeeper and private property owners, however, are prepared to show that the overburdened and oversaturated LAS at TenCate’s Molena Plant is discharging still polluted industrial wastewater overland and directly into streams on private property and springs that feed to these streams. These discharges have polluted the streams with salts, nitrate, arsenic, chromium, and other pollutants, and increased the conductivity of stream water in several locations, including clear-water branches and a formerly clear-water wetlands with high-quality gum and oak flats.

The lawsuit details hundreds of violations of the federal Clean Water Act polluting tributaries of the Flint River, including Cox Branch and Hardy Branch, in Upson County. In addition, the lawsuit explains that the pollution continues.

Additionally, noxious odors and overspray have been observed by local citizens and confirmed by the Riverkeeper on many occasions.

The federal Clean Water Act empowers citizens to file lawsuits when regulators are either unable to or refuse to step in to stop pollution. Despite efforts of the Riverkeeper and local citizens to address the ongoing problem at Ten Cate with the Georgia EPD, the facility continues to allow pollution from its spray field to run off and seep into protected streams.

Said Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers, “We are profoundly disappointed that we had to file suit on this issue, but we are committed to protecting this vital river basin.” The suit seeks an injunction from the court to stop the illegal pollution and impose penalties for past and ongoing violations, among other remedies.

The Riverkeeper is represented by GreenLaw Senior Attorney, Hutton Brown. He says that “The Riverkeeper’s primary objections are to cease the discharge of chemicals into tributaries of the Flint River.

We remain hopeful that this problem can be settled without a trial, but we are prepared, if necessary, to see this through.”

The local property owners are represented by Donald D.J. Stack and Tyler J. Sniff of Stack & Associates, P.C., an environmental law firm in Atlanta. Said Don Stack, “We believe that the thing for the company to do is install a modern wastewater treatment system, returning clean water directly to the Flint system. In this way the basin will be protected and our clients’ property damage problems will be addressed.”

“Polluted industrial wastewater discharged directly to tributaries of the Flint without a Clean Water Act permit is illegal. We seek to protect the health of the community, property values, and the River,” says Gordon Rogers, the Flint Riverkeeper. “We want TenCate to make the necessary investments, so that their important product for our safety and national security continues to be marketed, jobs are preserved, private property is cleaned up and protected, and our public waters have their quality and flow restored.”

Interested parties wanting to follow the issue may visit the Flint Riverkeeper website at www.flintriverkeeper.org, the GreenLaw website at www.greenlaw.org, and Stack & Associates, P.C. website at http://www.stackenvirolaw.com/.