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  Created 9-6-07

GEC Working with Board of Education Seeking
Altama Elementary School Testing



On July 10th, the Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) went before the Glynn County Board of Education and requested they join us in our request to the EPA to have Altama Elementary School tested.  The school abuts the Hercules 009 Landfill Site and toxic waste was removed from the school property in the mid-1990s.  Recent developments have cast doubt that all chemicals were removed from the school.

   At the July 17th Facilities Committee meeting, Glynn County Schools asked the GEC to work with Jack Childs, the attorney hired to advise the Board of Education concerning testing Altama Elementary School.  The GEC has had many calls with Mr. Childs, provided information, and expects his recommend-dations to be presented in the near future.

   The GEC has received many questions about our request for the Board of Education to join us in asking the EPA to test the school and resolve any doubts about the presence of toxic chemicals on school property.  The following are some of the questions received by the GEC and a brief response. 

Why was previous testing of the school insufficient?

 The EPA Inspector General found that all chemicals were not reported by the method used at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site and appropriate testing is needed.  Whenever toxic contamination is expected, the first step is to test and report what is present.  If all the chemicals are not reported, an assessment of the risks cannot be completed, or an incorrect conclusion that the property is safe can be reached .

 Are our children at risk right now?

 Without appropriate testing this question cannot be answered.  The GEC hopes there is not a problem, but we need facts, and not just hope, to assure the school is free of toxic chemicals.

 What was put into the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site?

 Wastes from manufacturing toxaphene, full and empty drums of chemicals, and other wastes were put into the Superfund Site. 

What is Toxaphene?

 Toxaphene is a pesticide that is now banned world-wide under the Stockholm Convention, and also called one of the “dirty dozen” or “toxic twelve” chemicals that were so dangerous that they were banned from use through an international agreement developed at the United Nations.  Toxaphene lasts a long time in the environment, resists breakdown, and can travel long distances through the atmosphere.  High levels of toxaphene were found in fish and other animals in areas where it was never used.

How was toxaphene made?

Toxaphene was made by combining chlorine with camphene.  The result was a mixture of over 800 chemicals.

Where was toxaphene manufactured?

Toxaphene was manufactured at the Brunswick Hercules Plant from 1948 to 1980.  Some of the manufacturing wastes went into Terry and Dupree Creeks, and the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site, but has also been found in other landfills and dumps in Glynn County.

For what was toxaphene used?

Toxaphene was used extensively on cotton and other crops, but was also used to rid lakes of unwanted fish species.  At one time, toxaphene was the most widely used pesticide.

Why is the GEC working with the Glynn County Board of Education?


The GEC is making a concerted effort to work with all segments of our community and educate our leaders about problems when they are discovered.  The GEC did ask the EPA to order testing to assure Altama Elementary School was safe, but the EPA responded that they had no intention of doing so at this time.  The PTA, local newspaper, and many others support the GEC’s efforts.  We anticipate that the Board of Education will see the need to resolve the uncertainty about the safety of Altama Elementary school and join us and our community in requesting the EPA test the school and report all chemicals present so that once and for all we can be sure we are not putting our children at risk


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