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

Scientists Rediscover Venezuelan Bird Not Seen In 60 Years

An international team of researchers has solved one of South America’s great bird mysteries. Working deep in the mountainous forests of western Venezuela, they have rediscovered the Táchira Antpitta, a plump brown bird species not seen since it was first recorded in the 1950s. Last year, scientists of the Red Siskin Initiative (RSI) — a conservation partnership between the ... (click for more)

Ted Wells: I Now Hold The Record For The Great Barracuda In Quintana Roo, Mexico

Me and my sometime fishing companion Michelle took a little time off last week to attend a wedding down near Cancun, Mexico, and, as I had about used up my welcome at the pool and had probably annoyed the staff at most of the other establishments at our resort, I decided to do a little bit of offshore fishing on the last full day, and kind of “get away.”  The cost was nearly ... (click for more)

Man Jumped Into River To Escape Robbers Who Killed His Wife At Renaissance Park; Tyree Corley Arrested In Shooting Death Of Kathy Hardy

A man told police he jumped into the Tennessee River to escape from robbers who killed his wife at Renaissance Park early Sunday morning, July 16. Tyree Tichion Corley, 22, of 3810 Sherwood Lane, has been charged with felony murder and especially aggravated robbery in the fatal shooting of Kathy Hardy. Corley is in custody at the Hamilton County Jail.  Shawn Hardy said ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools To Close Aug. 21 For Solar Eclipse

Due to safety concerns, Hamilton County Schools will close all schools and school age childcare on Aug. 21. This date coincides with the first total solar eclipse to occur across the entire continental United States in 99 years. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, and casts its shadow on the Earth below. The eclipse will reach totality ... (click for more)

Children Should Not Get Holiday For Solar Eclipse

Re: County Schools to close for the solar eclipse: What a waste of an educational opportunity. The local folks in-charge of the Hamilton County, Tn., school system just announced that they are going to cancel school on Aug. 21 the day of the eclipse.  To protect the children from being on the school bus during the time of the eclipse.  It will be dark and other ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jake, A Great Man

When Bob McKamey was 18 years old, the late Hitch Grimes came home on furlough from the Marine Corps and brought a handsome, energetic friend with him, Jake Butcher. “That was 64 years ago and that’s when it started, one of the greatest friendships of my life. Talking about Jake is like picking up a book with 1,000 pages and opening it to a random page. Only you can hardly put it ... (click for more)