Flint Riverkeeper and Local Property Owners Send 60-day Notice Letter of Clean Water Act Lawsuit to Ten Cate Textile Facility



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 Send 60-day Notice Letter of Clean Water Act Lawsuit to

Ten Cate Textile Facility


Molena, Upson County, GA – Two sets of local property owners and the Flint Riverkeeper served Southern Mills, Inc. (d/b/a Ten Cate Protective Fabrics) and its parent company Royal Ten Cate (USA), Inc. (“Ten Cate”) with a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue under the Clean Water Act for violations resulting from ongoing discharge of pollutants into tributaries of the Flint River and onto the owners’ properties from a Ten Cate fabric dyeing and finishing plant in Molena, Georgia.


Ten Cate 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 Ten Cate’s Molena Plant is discharging still polluted industrial wastewater overland and directly into streams on private property and via 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 a formerly clear-water wetland with gum and oak flats.


The letter details hundreds of violations of the Clean Water Act polluting Spring Creek, Elkins Creek, and branches thereof (including Cox Branch and Hardy Branch), which are tributaries of the Flint River in Upson County.  In addition, the letter 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 Clean Water Act empowers citizens to file suits when regulators are either unable to or refuse to step in to stop pollution problems.  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 disappointed that we had to pursue this first step toward litigation, but we are committed to protecting this vital river basin.”  The suit will be filed in U.S. District Court and will seek an injunction from the court to stop the illegal pollution and impose penalties for 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 the flow of chemicals into tributaries of the Flint River.   We remain hopeful that this problem can be resolved outside of court, but we are prepared, if necessary, to see this through.”


The property owners are represented by 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 my clients’ property damage problems will be solved.”


“Polluted water, overspray, and odor are significant problems at Ten Cate’s Molena Plant and should be controlled to protect the health of the community and the River,” says Gordon Rogers, the Flint Riverkeeper.  “We want Ten Cate to make the necessary investments, so that an 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/.