Category Archives: Swamp

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

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

Deny or EIS, titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2019-09-12

Sent just now as PDF. You can still send in your comments today.

[Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?]
Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine? PDF


September 12, 2019

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
       Attention: Ms. Holly Ross,  holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil
       1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia  31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
       Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
       Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks USACE:

  • to reject the subject Application from Twin Pines Minerals (TPM), given the inappropriate location which would over the years move ever closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, combined with the numerous omissions from the Application regarding the wide hydrogeologic, water quality, ecologic, and economic ramifications of the proposed mining, and the numerous other mines relevant to the proposal.

If USACE continues to process the Application, WWALS requests USACE:

  • to require a complete hydrogeological assessment and report, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and an economic analysis, with all three covering all the relevant features, mines, and applications in south Georgia and north Florida, including at least those outlined in this letter.
  • to accept comments until at least ninety days after all these documents are submitted to USACE and distributed to the public, preferably on USACE’s website, without requiring site visits to Albany to get them.
  • to hold public hearings in Georgia and Florida for further independent input and review after sufficient time (months or years) for independent third-party review.

The proposed Charlton County, Georgia, TPM mine site is hydraulically upgradient from the Okefenokee Swamp and within close proximity to the boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), with its 600,000 visits per year for boating, birding, and fishing, with more than $60 million annual economic effects including hundreds of jobs supported directly or indirectly, plus hunt clubs surrounding the Swamp. The Swamp provides ecosystem services of great economic values, including storm protection, water quality provisioning, support for nursery and habitat for commercial fishing species; and carbon storage, plus those hunt clubs depend on the Swamp. Any pollution of the Swamp or change in surface or groundwater levels could adversely affect not only ONWR and nearby areas, but also the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) near Waycross, in Ware County, GA, and Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP) in Charlton County, via Fargo in Clinch County. Visitors come from Jacksonville, Florida, Brunswick and Valdosta, Georgia, and from much farther away to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. The Swamp is a treasure to the entire nation and the world.

The stigma of a strip mine next to the swamp could cause people to turn away, taking their dollars with them. Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?

Continue reading

Deadline: today to comment to USACE against titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-09-12

Please send your comments today to the Army Corps and GA-EPD against the proposed titanium mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River.

How to Comment

The nominal comment deadline was Thursday, September 12, 2019, but the Corps will not say it will not read comments sent in later, so you can still send in your comments, and post them on social media, as op-eds, etc.

To comment, or to request a public hearing, you can write to
Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District,
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia, 31707,
or by email to holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil.
In your comments please refer to:
Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554.

For the requested state permit regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, you can send a comment or request for public hearing to
Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

More than 12,000 people have already commented. You can, too.

[Signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, before 2019-08-13 TPM meeting. L-r: Mark Lyons of Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Alice Keyes of One Hundred Miles, Hilda Gilchrist of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), Jim Tatum of OSFR and WWALS, Rena Peck Stricker of Georgia River Network, Mike Roth and Kristin Rubin of OSFR and WWALS, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of OSFR and WWALS

Here’s why.

Julia Widmann, Waterkeeper Alliance, 23 August 2019, Suwannee Riverkeeper Fights to Protect Okefenokee Swamp from Titanium Strip Mine,

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM), an Alabama-based mining company, applied for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers in Southern Georgia. The Suwannee flows south through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, and the St. Marys becomes the border between Georgia and Florida on its way to the Atlantic.

John was quoted in the first news story about the mine, by Emily Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting on July 15, “The most obvious thing that we really need is a real environmental impact statement. All we have so far is, ‘this is what the applicant said.’”

Both Suwannee Riverkeeper and Southern Environmental Law Center have prepared comments which will go in went in today. If your organization wants to sign on, please contact me ASAP, at contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org send in your own comments saying you support the Suwannee Riverkeeper comments.

Or you can just send in your own comments directly. Doesn’t have to be long. A sentence will do.

Much more about the proposed mine is here:
wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Charlton County, GA, Workshop, Comprehensive Plan 2019-08-27

There was a surprising amount of consensus on things that needed to be added to the Charlton County Comprehensive Plan, at the first Workshop conducted by Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC).

[Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.]
Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.

I’ll leave it to SGRC’s Elizabeth Backe to summarize that meeting. For now, suffice it to say that I think I did get them to mention the Suwannee River in many places where it previously was not, and I think also water trails and Suwannee Riverkeeper.

The next Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop will be:

When: 2-4 PM, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Where: Charlton County Administrative Offices, 68 Kingsland Dr. Suite B, Folkston, GA.

What: “We will be discussing the Policies and Community Work Program and Report of Accomplishments sections (5 and 6) of the Comprehensive Plan. If you are not able to attend this workshop, please feel free to send me any suggestions or comments by email.” –Elizabeth Backe, ebacke@sgrc.us

At the first Workshop, Ms. Backe used an initial discussion on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to motivate the detailed walk-through of part of the planning document. Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper at Our Santa Fe River Board Meeting 2019-08-28

Thanks, OSFR President Mike Roth, for the invitation. Jim Tatum, OSFR, 31 August 2019, Suwannee RiverKeeper Quarterman is Guest at OSFR Board Meeting,

John S. Quarterman at OSFR Board 2019-08-28

Guest speaker at the August OSFR board meeting was Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman from Georgia.

John gave a detailed run-down of the benefits and responsibilities of a riverkeeper, of which there are around 350 scattered around the globe.

What does John do?

Actually he does quite a bit. A brief search ended up on the WaterKeeper Alliance website which had Continue reading

Need EIS, public hearings –Okefenokee Swamp Park to USACE about titanium mine 2019-08-22

Excellent comments from Okefenokee Swamp Park, requesting at least three public hearings by the Army Corps, plus independent research, in addition to a full Environmental Impact Statement. When I received them from Dr. Clark last night, he asked me to circulate them widely; see also PDF.

[About OSP]
About OSP

Continue reading

Okefenokee overflight with GA Rep. John Corbett 2019-08-24

Flying over the affected area appears to have made at least one elected official think harder about whether the supposed titanium mining jobs could be more important than the effects on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, both its economic importance and the potential environmental detriments to the swamp, to the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and to the Floridan Aquifer. You can still write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for denial or at least an Environmental Impact Statement.

Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News, 28 August 2019, Getting the aerial perspective on a titanium mining project,

[WC6170, 22:40:34]
Photo: Jim Tatum, of the Chemours North Maxville Mine, Baker County, Florida. This is the mine pictured in the Brunswick News article.

…The mining company Twin Pines Minerals, LLC [(TPM)], said it plans to employ 150 people, but [Georgia State Representative John] Corbett acknowledged most of the employees will not come from Charlton County.

Corbett went on a two-hour flight Saturday Continue reading

Moody AFB sewage spill, Mission Lake 2019-08-06

Did you know Moody Air Force Base had two sewage spills this month? Thanks to GA-EPD, we knew about them, and Moody AFB posted news reports on both of them. One went into Mission Lake, upstream from Grand Bay and the Alapaha River. The other went into Beatty Branch, upstream from Cat Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

[Building 769 and Mission Lake]
Building 769 and Mission Lake

23d Wing Public Affairs, News, 7 August 2019, Sewage Spill Notification, Continue reading

WCTV on mining proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge 2019-08-21

“Because of the coal plants in Georgia, there’s mercury deposition on the surface of the ground for years. If they go stir all that up, that could run in to the swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman. “Why should we risk the Okefenokee, its boating, its fishing, its birding.”

Quoted by a reporter based in Valdosta, GA for WCTV in Tallahassee, FL, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 21 August 2019, Heavy mining facility proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

[Sign]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Okefenokee NWR Entrance Sign, 2019-07-18

…Last week the Charlton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for the project. County officials said the reason is because Charlton County does not have many industry opportunities of its own, and many residents leave to surrounding counties for work. officials said the 150 jobs created from the project could be beneficial to the county.

The Okefenokee Swamp is the headwater for the Suwannee River, which is why community members across the region are fighting the proposal, saying it could have consequences in both states.

In the proposal, the Continue reading