By BJ CORBITT
Reba Reyna still enjoys walking into the marsh
in her backyard, but she says it just doesn't offer the same sensation
it did decades ago.
"We used to walk out and the shrimp would come
out and nibble on your toes, but not anymore," the Glynn County retiree
Living on Shore Drive in central Glynn County
for almost 30 years, Reyna knows the marsh has changed. The marsh sits
just 25 feet from her back door.
Much of the marine life that used to flow
through the marsh - fed by an inland creek from the Turtle River - has
disappeared. And what remains isn't suitable for consumption, she
She blames the situation on Allied Chemical
Corp. and its years of dumping mercury and other chemicals into the
The site of the defunct plant today is a U.S.
She isn't the only one blaming Allied Chemical
for environmental problems. Reyna - along with her husband Warren and
daughter Pamela Long - recently joined a class action lawsuit which
accuses Honeywell International, formerly Allied Chemical Corp., of
dumping tons of mercury and polychlorinated byphenols, or PCBs, into the
Turtle River over a 23-year period.
Thirty-four residents have added their names to
a list that includes hundreds of people.
"I know that what the pollution has done is (it
has) killed everything in our marsh back here," she said.
Honeywell operated the chlor-alkilai chemical
plant on Ross Road from 1956 to 1979.
The suit also alleges that Honeywell conspired
with Linden Chemicals and Plastics - or LCP, which operated the plant
from 1979 to 1994 - to keep the dumping quiet.
Surveys of the site by the state Environmental
Protection Division and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have
revealed elevated levels of mercury, lead and PCBs at the plant site and
in nearby water and organic life.
Honeywell spokesperson Victoria Streitfeld said
Honeywell will defend the case vigorously but declined to offer further
Roughly 200 parties are seeking damages from the
company. Originally filed in 1995, the suit is pending in both
Glynn County Superior Court and in U.S. District Court here.
Brunswick attorney Bob Killian, one of the
lawyers representing the plaintiffs, declined comment, citing
restrictions against speaking to the news media imposed by U.S. District
Judge Anthony Alaimo, who has been assigned the case.
The suit alleges that the chemicals from the
plants have killed and contaminated much of the area's marine life and
posed a danger to people who consume fish from the Turtle River and the
creeks it feeds.
The state Department of Natural Resources closed
part of the Turtle River and Purvis Creek to fishing in the 1990s and
issued a consumption advisory.
The citizens involved in the case are seeking a
number of damages from Honeywell, including compensation for lost
property values, legal fees and exemplary damages to serve as a
deterrent to the company from future actions similar to those alleged in