Tennessee Riverkeeper Files Notice Of Intent To Sue Henagar Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant

Monday, August 13, 2012
Henagar Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant
Henagar Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant
- photo by David Whiteside

Tennessee Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization protecting the Tennessee River watershed, has mailed notice of intent to sue the City of Henagar over the operation of the Henagar Industrial Park Waste Water Treatment Plant. Riverkeeper alleges persistent and ongoing problems at the plant with multiple discharge violations almost every month since April 2008.  The plant has incurred approximately 2,839 violations during that time.  Most disturbing are the violations involving release of excessive amounts of the toxins mercury and copper.  

The plant's discharge has failed toxicity tests on a regular basis.   According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: exposures to mercury can affect the human nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system.  Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury.  But some contain high levels.  Fish absorb methylmercury when they eat aquatic plants, algae, and smaller aquatic organisms.  Larger and older fish absorb more methylmercury as they eat other fish.  In this way, the amount of methylmercury builds up as it passes through the food chain.  Fish eliminate methylmercury slowly, and so it builds up in fish in much greater concentrations than in the surrounding water.  Methylmercury generally reaches the highest levels in predatory fish at the top of the aquatic food chain.  Elevated levels of copper are toxic in aquatic environments and may adversely affect fish, invertebrates, plants, and amphibians.  Acute toxic effects may include mortality of organisms; chronic toxicity can result in reductions in survival, reproduction, and growth.  In humans, small amounts of copper are necessary to maintain good health; however, higher concentrations of copper may cause health effects such as irritation of the nose, mouth, and eyes; nausea; and diarrhea.

The Henagar Industrial Plant discharges into South Sauty Creek which flows through Buck's Pocket State Park on its way to Lake Guntersville of the Tennessee River.  The Creek is a popular Class V whitewater run for advanced paddle athletes.  Other recreational users of these waters are fishermen, swimmers, campers, and hikers.  All may be at risk from bodily contact with contaminated water, ingestion of contaminated water, or eating fish tainted with toxins. 

Tennessee Riverkeeper also mailed notices of intent to sue to Koch Farms and Wright's Hosiery, the two largest industrial dischargers to the treatment plant.  Wright's Hosiery bleaches and dies hosiery, then discharges wastewater to the Henagar treatment plant.  Tests conducted by the plant show high amounts of copper in their discharge.  Wright's discharges so much color in its wastewater that the Henagar plant has been unable to remove enough of it before discharge to comply with its permit.  Koch Farms is a poultry hatchery operation that discharges its wastewater to the Henagar treatment plant.  Tests have shown high copper amounts discharged by Koch as well.  

Kayaker on South Sauty Creek
Kayaker on South Sauty Creek
- Photo2 by Jeremy Adkins

Tennessee State Parks To Host Public Input Hearing At Booker T. Washington State Park

Leaders from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will be conducting a public hearing at Booker T. Washington State Park on Thursday, Dec. 4, to gather public input and discuss the current business and management plan for the park.  The event will begin at  5:30 p.m.  with an open house reception to meet park staff and view exhibits. The ... (click for more)

SORBA Chattanooga Announces 2015 Race Series Schedule

SORBA (Southern Off-Road Biking Association) Chattanooga announced the Race Series schedule for 2015. Registration for all races opens on Dec. 1 . Pick Your Poison, a cross country race at Booker T. Washington State Park; Soul Sucker, which has a 25k and 50k option held at Raccoon Mountain; the Raccoon Mountain Super D, a downhill race; Night Shift, the six-hour twilight race ... (click for more)

2 People Critically Injured In North Chattanooga House Fire

For the second time in three days, a house fire has resulted in tragedy with two people critically injured in North Chattanooga. At 10:13 a.m. on Wednesday, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported house fire with entrapment at 220 Houser St. The first firefighters on the scene saw flames shooting out windows and part of the roof. Having been told that people ... (click for more)

Kiser Post-Conviction Hearing To Resume April 6

A post-conviction hearing in which Marlon Duane Kiser is seeking a new trial in the 2001 slaying of Deputy Donald Bond will resume April 6. Attorneys for Kiser, who is on Death Row, said they have additional witnesses to call. Kiser on Tuesday took the witness stand for the first time, blaming the killing on the man he was living with at the time - Mike Chattin. Chattin, who ... (click for more)

Why Ferguson Matters In Chattanooga

The recent verdict in Ferguson has thrown race relations in the spotlight again. It is far too easy to get caught up in the debate as to who was right. But the plain fact is that the community lost, the police force lost and the nation lost. So why does Ferguson matter in Chattanooga? Because a police force mainly composed of whites got into a conflict with a community mainly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)