AGL pipeline explosion settlement deferred again by GA-PSC for state-wide safety: needs to add LNG 2019-09-19

For more time to examine where gas detectors are needed throughout the state, GA-PSC has again deferred voting on the AGL settlement. As Commissioner Jason Shaw said at the first deferral Tuesday, they want to “make sure that all across the state we can make sure that this type of equipment…” is available.

Plus GA-PSC should take a hard look at AGL subsidiary Pivotal LNG’s Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction facilities and truck and train routes from them to Jacksonville, Florida, especially since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has shirked its oversight duties for inland LNG facilities.

AGL pipeline map, Georgia
Georgia, AGL Pipeline Map, in Homerville, GA pipeline explosion, by John S. Quarterman, 17 August 2018

AGL has pipelines all over the state of Georgia. I don’t know any reason to believe any of them are any safer than the one that goes from my property in Lowndes County to Homerville in Clinch County (and to Moody Air Force Base, to parts of Valdosta, to Ray City in Berrien County, and to Lakeland in Lanier County).

The map above is the newest I could find online. It was last updated in 2008, more than a decade ago. No doubt AGL can provide the PSC with more current mapping data. Maybe the PSC could require AGL to provide an updated map to the public.

The Public Map Viewer by the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA) is no help: it does not include AGL’s distribution pipelines such as the one to Homerville.

PHMSA was sufficiently concerned about the Homerville Coffee Corner explosion that it wrote on AGL’s report to PHMSA: Continue reading

GA-EPD cites Suwannee Riverkeeper and US EPA against TPM titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-09-12

GA-EPD told USACE the mining application is incomplete, asked for comments to be reopened, and cited Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network:

“Understanding that groundwater hydrologic effects associated with the Twin Pines project have been a central concern expressed by federal resource/regulatory agencies, NGOs (e.g. the Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network), and the public at large, we respectfully submit that the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete since it lacks full information and findings regarding hydrogeologic factors on site and post-project effects to hydrogeology/groundwater. We feel that it is inappropriate and premature to close the project comment window when such notable elements of the environmental documentation for this project have not yet been made available. documentation which we at GaEPD judge to be important to our review of this project.”

[the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete]
the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete

This was revealed by USACE in a Public Notice of September 17, 2019. So far, this is the only update posted by the Corps since it closed comments on September 12, 2019.

It also includes comments by U.S. EPA, also saying the application is incomplete, and also cited by GA-EPD. EPA cites cumulative effects and notes numerous lacking documents and studies. EPA concludes:

“Due to the potential for the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine to adversely affect the hydrology of the Okefenokee NWR, the EPA believes that there is the potential for this project as proposed to cause adverse effects to water quality and the life stages of aquatic life or other wildlife dependent on aquatic systems. The EPA finds that this project, as proposed, may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance, as covered in Part IV. paragraph 3(a) of the August 1992 Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA and the Department of the Army regarding CWA Section 404(q).”

Apparently USACE is at least listening to the public and the public and NGOs such as Suwannee Riverkeeper.

You can still send in comments. The Corps won’t say they will read them, but they explicitly won’t say they won’t read them, so keep sending them in, and publish them on social media, as op-eds, etc. Continue reading

Posted: Valdosta Country Club Sewage Spill, six days afterwards 2019-08-27

The GA-EPD person who enters the data was on vacation, but eventually the Valdosta Country Club sewage spill appeared in GA-EPD’s online reports, on August 27, 2019, with this:

“Note: Initial 24-hour spill notification received by EPD 8/21, via phone. Entered 8/26 due to employee vacation.”

As I noted to GA-EPD, this is a good example of a case where an automated email alert could have let them and us all know when it appeared. Alabama has been doing that for two years now, and Florida for almost as long.

3353 Plantation Drive is not the spill location, Google Map
Red marker: 3353 Plantation Drive. Yellow diamond sign: actual spill location.

That entry included a more precise address than Valdosta had previously reported: 3353 Plantation Drive. Unfortunately, that address is still incorrect. As I have pointed out to GA-EPD, the spill was Continue reading

WWALS at South Georgia Pride Saturday 2019-09-21

Come on down to the South Georgia Pride Festival in Saunders Park in Valdosta this Saturday. At the WWALS booth you can play the froggy toss game and talk about our outings and advocacy, including how you can volunteer to help keep our waters clean!

When: Noon-5PM, Saturday, September 21, 2019

Where: John W. Saunders Park, 1151 River Street, Valdosta, Georgia

Event: facebook

[Froggy Toss]
Froggy Toss

Maybe we’ll do water quality tests on Sugar Creek. Continue reading

Pictures: WWALS at South Georgia Pride 2018-09-15

It was a fun time last year at South Georgia Pride. Join us at Saunders Park again this Saturday!

[Gretchen at the booth]
Gretchen at the booth

Maybe Barber Spring will be running. Maybe we’ll do water quality tests on Sugar Creek. Continue reading

Make sure we have an adequate amount for departments all across the state in AGL settlement –GA-PSC Commissioner Jason Shaw 2019-09-17

Deferred: the AGL gas explosion settlement agreement, to be sure enough county fire departments are covered, and there is “an adequate amount” to do that. Maybe now Lowndes County and Berrien County and Ray City can be added to the list of departments to get gas detection equipment. No doubt AGL will be happy to provide more funds to accomplish this prevention of explosions such as happened last fall in Homerville, GA.

[Commissioner Jason Shaw]
Commissioner Jason Shaw

Thanks to Commissioner Jason Shaw for speaking up for the people of the state of Georgia at this morning’s GA-PSC meeting.

I would like to hold item R1. I think there are some questions.

Continue reading

AGL pipeline explosion settlement down to 10% on GA-PSC agenda tomorrow morning 2019-09-16 2019-09-17

Update 2019-09-17: Decision deferred for questions.

AGL has whittled GA-PSC staff’s recommended fine of $2,305,000.00 down to $250,000, on the theory that prevention is the goal, not punishment. This item is on GA-PSC’s agenda for 9AM tomorrow morning, September 16 17, 2019. There will be live stream of audio.

[5701 Quarterman Road]
AGL President Bryan Batson (in green shirt) at 5701 Quarterman Road, Lowndes County, Georgia

$110,000 of the settlement is to go to fire departments for gas detectors, plus $70,000 on water and sewer damage prevention educational programs, and $70,000 to the Georgia Pipeline Emergency Responder Initiative (GPERI). At least that $250,000 is 25 times the usual fine. And despite the usual disclaimers of no admission of fault, etc., there is this:

The stipulation states that AGL cannot recover any of the $250,000.00 through rates or by ratepayers. Additionally, if AGLC receives any tax benefits as a result of utilizing the money, all benefits must be passed on to ratepayers.

When Tom Krause, Public Information Office, GA-PSC, sent me these documents about noon today, he added:

As I said, the PSC is continuing investigations into the contractor and the City of Homerville regarding this incident.

Plus there are quite likely private lawsuits still pending.

GA-PSC composed “a list of the 85 fire departments within AGLC’s certificated territory that could receive the gas detectors.”

[Fire Department List Homerville AGL]
Fire Department List Homerville AGL
PDF

Curiously, while Hahira is on that list, Lowndes County is not, even though Continue reading

Two reappointed to SRWMD so quorum for Wednesday Budget Public Hearing 2019-09-18

Sudden quorum for Budget Public Hearing, Pilgrim’s Pride withdrawal as Renewal rather than Modification, and Nestlé still not on the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) agenda for this Wednesday afternoon at 3PM. But don’t let that stop you from asking SRWMD to deny Nestlé’s application for more water from Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, and to revisit Nestlé’s withdrawal permit from Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River.

[Apparently two have been reappointed]
Apparently two have been reappointed

Apparently the Florida Governor has reappointed two SRWMD board members, Charles Keith and Richard Schwab, since they show up again on the SRWMD Current Governing Board Members web page.

I don’t know whether they were reappointed to the same slots or not, since there was no announcement that I have found. Charles Keith was At Large and Richard Schwab was Coastal River Basin.

So they’re back up to Continue reading

Free boat rental at WWALS Boomerang, from Georgia to Florida and Back Again 2019-10-26

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Valdosta, GA, September 16, 2019 — Two outfitters will have boats for free rental; thanks, NWXpeditions and VSU Core! Or bring your own, of course. Again this year, Boy Scouts of America, South Georgia Council, will be there. TNT Hot Dogs will have food, and paddlers each get a ticket for a beer at Georgia Beer Company. “There’s still time for more sponsors to sign up!” said Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie, “And you can wear your Halloween costumes!”

[Flyer]
Flyer
PDF

“This is the sort of cross-state-line ecotourism all the local counties say they want to promote, maybe including some friendly Georgia-Florida rivalry,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “Paddle racing and leisurely paddling on the idyllic blackwater Withlacoochee River. Plenty of water, no deadfalls, plus shoals!”

Gathering at 11AM, Saturday, October 26, 2019, at State Line Ramp in Georgia, we will paddle into Florida, with staggered starts for turnarounds at 1, 2, and 3 miles, then back to where we started.

Tickets are $20 until October 15th, then $30.

Vendor space is free for nonprofits vested in conservation or stewardship of our waters. There is a $20 fee for for-profit vendors, and because it’s a park a selling permit is required. Thanks to Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority (VLPRA) for use of State Line Boat Ramp.

Sponsors get their name and logo on a banner, in announcements, and in flyers, with various other perks at different levels of sponsorship.

Everything about WWALS Boomerang 2019 is here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2019-10-26–boomerang/

Continue reading

Comments: 20,338 on titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –USACE 2019-09-12

If this and the 27 news articles on radio, TV, and newspapers in Georgia and Florida, several of them carried by Associated Press across the country, plus the ten op-eds and three editorials, is not enough to establish controversy, I wonder what is. Maybe still more comments and news articles and social media?

[Public Notice: 20,338 comments]
Public Notice: 20,338 comments
PDF

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 September 2019, Mining proposal near Okefenokee draws more than 20K comments from public

The Suwannee Riverkeeper, on Thursday, sent 22 pages of questions to the Corps and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection asking the agency to deny the permit. The Riverkeeper joined the SELC and other organizations and individuals in asking the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the highest level of analysis available when a proposed federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

Also in that AJC story:

Commenters expressed concerns ranging from the acres of wetlands that would be lost to what they considered inadequate studies conducted to determine the potential impact of the mine.

In a letter to the Corps, the Southern Environmental Law Center said Continue reading