Tag Archives: Bradford County

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

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

A resolution supporting the TPM mine is on the agenda for the Charlton County Commission meeting, 6PM this Thursday, August 15, 2019, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA. Especially if you live in Charlston County, please go to that meeting and object. Even better, contact your County Commissioner before the meeting.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13]
Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13

Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, yesterday, August 13, 2019:

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) promises jobs, taxes, and low impact to mine for titanium between Moniac and St. George, on property that extends up to the Okefenokee NWR.

People from Baker, Bradford, and Union Counties, Florida, say they don’t know any locals who have the mine jobs promised by Chemours. The TPM application for Charlton County promises Continue reading

Consent Order, FDEP v. Chemours involving Twin Pines Minerals 2019-02-07

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is cited in a consent order on Chemours mines, for failure to collect data, spilling waste through silt fences and not cleaning it up, and being out of compliance on numerous counts, including radium and iron, in the Suwannee, St. Johns, and St. Mary’s River basins in Florida.

[Four times spelled out]
Four times spelled out, on four different pages

This is the same TPM that has applied to mine titanium in Charlton County, Georgia, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers.

[TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines]
TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines

You can read the Consent Order yourself: Continue reading

Bring pictures of people, animals, plants, and mining to Charlton County

Please bring pictures (not costumes) and stories of people to the miners meetings this week in Charlton County, Georgia, about the proposed Twin Pines Minerals titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee Swamp on Trail Ridge.

Little gator on the shore, 09:43:42,, Starting
Little gator on the shore, 2017-12-10.

Here are some types of pictures that would be good:

  • People fishing, paddling, hiking, birding.
  • People holding binoculars and gazing through high-powered spotting scopes and telephone lenses.
  • People just looking at gorgeous landscapes of swamps and trees and animals: cypress, longleaf, gators, bitterns, sand hill cranes, gophers, bears, and all the others.
  • People hunting the waterfowl that fly from their Okefenokee habitat to hunting seasons elsewhere.
  • All the types of folks who make up the hundreds of thousands who visit the swamp or benefit from it every year, spending the million of dollars and generating the tens of millions of economic effects every year, in a stable and economic fashion.

Bring pictures of other titanium mines and the areas surrounding them to show what this area and around it would look like with such extractive misuse.

[Closeup]
Closeup of Chemours mine dredging in Baker County, Florida, on Trail Ridge, viewed from CR 228. More pictures on the WWALS website.

No costumes, just pictures, signs, stories, and handouts.

A few people are proposing this mine to extract profit at everyone else’s expense, threatening all those things people care about in the swamp and the rivers.

Many people involved all these ways with the Okefenokee and the rivers can stop the mine. Continue reading

Charlton County Herald on proposed titanium mine near Okefenokee Refuge 2019-07-23

The local newspaper discovered another discrepancy between what the Army Corps announced and what the mining company is saying.

Marla Ogletree, Charlton County Herald, 23 July 2019, Twin Pines seeks permit for heavy mineral mining in Okefenokee area.

[Trail Ridge Land LLC]
Trail Ridge Land LLC

The story notes the Public Notice says Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is asking to mine 12,000 acres near the world-famous Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. But Steven Ingle with TPM told the newspaper TPM only owns about 9,000 acres, and they would disturb only part of that.

The story has further discussion about TPM’s claims of low impact. Then:

“Based on the amount of permanent damage, the mining could still [a]ffect the top soil for planting trees, which could then cause issues for natural habitats,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Endangered animals, such as Continue reading

QUARTERMAN: Swamp, Suwannee more valuable than titanium in VDT 2019-07-23

In the Valdosta Daily Times, page 4A, July 24, 2019, and online July 21: QUARTERMAN: Swamp, Suwannee more valuable than titanium (updated here in light of recent developments, with links):

A company wants to mine on Trail Ridge, between the St. Mary’s River and the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River.

[Suwannee River Basin Landings]
Suwannee River Basin Landings
For much more about the mine application, see wwals.net/pictures/2019-07-12–tpm-usace/.
See also WWALS the interactive google map, Landings on the rivers in the Suwannee River Basin: Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, upper and lower Suwannee River watersheds and Estuary, plus Santa Fe River, by Suwannee Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

The Charlton County Commission passed Continue reading

Charlton County, GA, BOCC 2019-07-18

Three people came up from Baker County, Florida, to get another copy of the mine application from Twin Pines Minerals (it matches the earlier copy) and then had to leave early. Emily Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) came from Savannah. Suwannee Riverkeeper (I) asked the Charlton County Commissioners to consider asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend the application comment date. The Chair of St. Mary’s Riverkeeper spoke. The miners’ lobbyist sat silent.

[Attorney?, County Administrator Hampton Raulerson, Absent Jesse Crews (3), Vice Chair Alphya Benefield (1), Chair James E. Everett (2), , Drew Jones (4), Luke Gowen (5), County Clerk Jenifer Nobles, Finance Coordinator Rebecca Harden]
Thanks for hospitality to Attorney?, County Administrator Hampton Raulerson, Absent Jesse Crews (3), Vice Chair Alphya Benefield (1), Chair James E. Everett (2), , Drew Jones (4), Luke Gowen (5), County Clerk Jenifer Nobles, Finance Coordinator Rebecca Harden.

Since we learned that Twin Pines Minerals still has a hydrogelogical study in process with some unknown completion date, the thirty-day extension GPB announced the next day does not seem adequate, since a key study is missing. Remember to comment on the Corps’ and GA DNR dockets, and see below for the dates, times, and locations of upcoming meetings in Charlton County.

There was nothing on the agenda about the mine, so everything about it was in Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading