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Industry escapes discharge posting requirement 

It was close, but Georgia's big polluters successfully dodged a bullet last week that would have required them to post their company names and phone numbers near drainage pipe outfalls along state waterways.

Thanks to Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Lindsay Thomas, companies will be exempt from posting anything but their discharge permit number and an Environmental Protection Division emergency hotline phone number.

Thomas told a Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection committee Tuesday, Aug. 21, that having company names posted near discharge pipes would stigmatize those businesses.

DNR members then decided to revise the proposal so that only counties and cities have to post their names and numbers.

"The point is not to be punitive, but to stop a spill as quickly as possible, because we know that spills can and do happen from time to time," says Sally Bethea, the DNR board member and the executive director of the Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper who's been trying to get the sign requirements passed for more than two years. The proposed new rules "are moving along, but they were weakened by lawyers for the textile, pulp and paper, and mining industries, and the head of Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The public has 30 days to comment on the proposal, and the full DNR board will vote on the proposed rules in its October meeting.

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