Category Archives: EPA

Thanks to organizations for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the Titanium Mine

Thanks to the more than two dozen organizations, local, regional, statewide in Florida and Georgia, national, and international, that oppose the titanium mine that would be far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) provides boating, birding, fishing, and hunting nearby to the tune of more than $60 million a year and more than 700 jobs, making it the NWR of most economic benefit to each of Georgia and Florida. The Okefenokee Swamp is a unique ecological treasure, and is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers. The burden of proof is on the miners, and they have not met it.

[Organizations For Okefenokee Swamp, Against Titanium Mine]
Organizations For Okefenokee Swamp, Against Titanium Mine
PDF
Add your organization here: https://forms.gle/Dyqc77EBsjXBsz93A

You can still file a comment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the Corps actually issues a permit, which they may in the next few weeks, anything filed can be used in any ensuing lawsuit.

Exactly how many organizations oppose that strip mine is hard to say, since Continue reading

Turbidity, Coral Reef, Cyanotoxin, and Numeric Nutrient Criteria –Waterkeepers Florida to Florida Triennial Review 2019-11-22

Florida provides Get Out of Jail Free cards for fertilizer, sewage, and manure (FSM), wrote Waterkeepers Florida in this letter sent Friday to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in its Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards:

If actual substantial harm is eventually found, the only result is a planning processes that lead to Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs). BMAPs are largely collaborations of the operators of FSM pollution sources, and the only consequence of the failure of the plan to actually curb FSM pollution is a requirement to report the failure. Where BMAPs were hoped to be practical mechanisms to reduce FSM pollution, they have in fact functioned as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for agriculture industries and other sources of as FSM pollution, while our waters continue to be degraded. The FSM rules have been implemented over the past seven years, during which time, widespread massive algae outbreaks have taken place on the St. Johns River, and in other rivers and lakes throughout Florida.

[Turbidity Criteria]

Much of this letter from most of the members of Waterkeepers Florida, including Suwannee Riverkeeper, is about cyanotoxins, which fortunately we do not yet have in the Suwannee River Basin, and coral reefs, which are a southern Florida regional matter. Yet every regional matter affects the whole state of Florida, the southeast, the nation, and the world. For example, about II. Routes of Ingestion:

This calculation only takes ingestion while swimming into account. Exposure to cyanotoxins can also occur dermally and through inhalation of aerosolized particles. These routes are not taken into consideration, as EPA states, because adequate effects data are not available. The relative source contribution that was a part of the 2016 recommendations has been removed, to focus on the ingestion.

Plus people all over Florida and beyond eat fish caught in the red tide areas: how much exposure to ingested cyanotoxins do we all have?

WKFL Letter

Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp on GWC Dirty Dozen because Titanium Mine 2019-11-14

Announced yesterday to press across Georgia and beyond, the titanium mine near Georgia and Florida’s Okefenokee Swamp proposed by Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama made the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen (see also PDF).

You can still file a comment with the Army Corps and GA-EPD asking them to reject the mine or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement. Convenience for miners is no excuse to risk the fishing, boating, and birding in the swamp and hunting and forestry nearby.

[Closeup]
Closeup of TPM equipment on mine site from GA 94 westbound.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, November 14, 2019

2019’s
Worst Offenses Against
GEORGIA’S WATER
OKEFENOKEE SWAMP, ST. MARYS AND SUWANNEE RIVERS

Proposed 2,400-Acre Titanium Mine Threatens Signature Landscape of Georgia

INTRODUCTION:

Twenty years ago when chemical giant DuPont proposed mining titanium dioxide ore near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposition to the plan was so strong— Continue reading

Nutrients and Cyanotoxins, FDEP Triennial Review Workshop, Tallahassee 2019-11-04

Water quality testing for nutrients and cyanotoxins were big topics at yesterday’s Public Workshop in Tallahassee. Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman was there, but had to leave at noon. So John S. Quarterman ended up speaking as Suwannee Riverkeeper and on behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, in Florida’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards.

[Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman]
Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman

The FDEP presenters made it pretty clear they preferred putting up warning signs based on clorophyl a measurements and whenever cyanobacteria blooms are sighted, as they ask DOH to do now, to waiting for lab tests to come back to confirm, as EPA Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida passes resolution against titanium mine application near Okefenokee Swamp

Waterkeepers Florida asks the Army Corps to require Twin Pines Minerals to supply all the information missing from its application for a titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to hold Public Hearings, including in Florida, and “to answer how the Corps has or will determine that the Applicant’s proposed mine would not adversely affect the Okefenokee Swamp, the St. Marys River, the Suwannee River, the Floridan Aquifer, or the State of Florida.”

You can also still comment to the Army Corps.

[TPM Equipment closeup, Wayne Morgan]
TPM Equipment closeup Photo: Wayne Morgan for Suwannee Riverkeeper on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

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

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

Continue reading

EPA kicks PFAS regulation a year down the road

Yesterday’s EPA PFAS plan does nothing except to study for a year or more what has already been studied. Where are the limits on amounts of these firefighting chemicals in water that would enable EPA or GA-EPD to test private wells, for example for the PFAS that got into groundwater from Moody Air Force Base’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, causing Moody’s report to say be careful eating fish caught in Beatty Branch or Cat Creek, upstream from the Withlacoochee River? Where are the funds and methods to remediate the problem and to stop it getting worse?

[Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment]
Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14 February 2018, EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, Continue reading

Health costs of firefighting foams

It’s time for the state of Georgia and the U.S. Congress to set limits, and appropriate funds for testing and remedial actions, as the evidence and lawsuits pile up about those firefighting chemicals spilled from Moody AFB and many other places.

What is the price of fire safety? As lawsuits pile up and government pressure rises, firefighting-foam makers reconsider the environmental cost of fluorosurfactants, by Marc S. Reisch, Chemical and Engineering News (c&en), JANUARY 14, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE

Photo: Large Atmospheric Storage Tank Fires project; Firefighters spray fluorine-free foam on a hydrocarbon test fire at Dallas Fort Worth Airport.
Photo: Large Atmospheric Storage Tank Fires project
Firefighters spray fluorine-free foam on a hydrocarbon test fire at Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

Testifying to Congress in September 2018 before it passed the legislation allowing civilian airports to use fluorine-free foams, Timothy Putnam, a 24-year civilian firefighter for the navy, said he recalled using fluorine-containing foam—in the days before scientists raised safety flags—“as a substitute for vehicle soap to wash fire department vehicles. We also used [it] to clean the fire station floors.”

Now, Putnam said, he is worried about “human impacts” of the exposure. And he didn’t accept the argument that Continue reading

Testing for firefighting chemicals in wells and waterways 2019-01-18

Those firefighting chemicals that leaked from Moody Air Force Base are on the front page of the Valdosta Daily Times today:

Moody recommends private well owners contact their county representatives for information on testing personal wells.

Paige Dukes, Lowndes County clerk and public information officer, said this is an opportunity for county residents such as Tann to have their water tested. Not only for PFAS but for any other contaminants that might be there.

Indeed, and Lowndes County operates the Moody AFB wastewater treatment plant that spilled into Beatty Branch and Cat Creek. So it’s an opportunity for Lowndes County to help organize testing for these per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), because testing for them isn’t nearly as simple or inexpensive as testing for other contaminants.

Reporter and photographer at Beatty Branch, 2019-01-07, VDT
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, nearby resident Debra Tann, VDT reporter Thomas Lynn and photographer Derrek Vaughn, at Beatty Branch, January 7, 2019. Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

Debra Tann and I were back at Beatty Branch on January 7, 2019, this time with the VDT, about the firefighting chemical issue that was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the first week of January. This time it was for local reporters. Moody neighbor wants water tested, Continue reading