P. O. Box 2443
Glynn Environmental Coalition 2000 Annual Report
During the past year, the Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) has accomplished much towards our goal of making Coastal Georgia a safe and healthy place to live and raise our families. Our efforts to preserve our rights to information and input into the decisions that affect our lives have not gone unnoticed.
Late in 1999, the GEC filed our first case in Federal Court to obtain information the EPA was withholding from the citizens of Coastal Georgia. Through this action, we were able to document EPA wrongdoing so thoroughly that the EPA National Ombudsman took the case without the usual request for information and assessment by the EPA Regional office. Since we have diligently kept our congressional representatives informed about EPA wrongdoing, their support to move forward in righting this injustice was unanimous.
Community organizing around the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site was very successful. As a result of visiting over 450 homes, several neighborhoods have been united so they can have input into the decisions made at the Site. Immediate concerns identified were children playing on the Site and the continuing discharge of chemicals to Burnett Creek. Even though the EPA fought hard against our efforts, our cohesiveness attracted the attention of our Congressman who helped in getting the Site fenced and the discharge pipe plugged. In addition, much needed testing of resident's yards, wells, and Burnett Creek seafood and sediment has been started.
Our habitual violator and chronic polluter, Hercules Inc., was once again cited for numerous violations during an inspection that found the Plant in a dilapidated condition, a threat for a fire or explosion, and seven processes areas operating without permits. The proposed Consent Order (CO) by the Georgia EPD had no meaningful measures to stop further deterioration, decrease risk to the community, and included a paltry fine. In order to empower the community, the GEC requested a public hearing. Comments from the community made it clear that the CO must include a final solution for this Plant. Parents held letters signed by doctors that stated the only way their children would be well again was to move away from this Plant. A meaningful final solution to this ongoing health threat remain one of the GEC's highest priorities.
Progress was made in our effort to get our many other Superfund and toxic sites cleaned up. Through persistent prodding, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has moved from requesting investigations at three Sites to issuing Consent Orders to move the cleanups forward. The GEC continued to educate citizens about progress, problems, and proposed plans for the Superfund Sites. Citizen knowledge was key to the EPA withdrawing insufficient cleanup plans. Increasingly, our community understands that our expectations can be met by speaking with a united voice.
School children are safer as a result of the implementation of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan for Glynn County Schools. Through a partnership with the GEC, Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, and Glynn County Schools, a plan was developed that eliminates the use of the most toxic chemicals in the schools. Instead of routine spraying of chemicals, sanitation and structural repair are used first. Only as a last resort, low toxicity pesticides such as nonvolatile baits, boric acid, and microbial or botanical controls are used to control pests. Over a year in development, the IPM plan is among the best ever developed in the Nation.
The EPA Preliminary Assessment Petition for the 30-40 acres of dioxin contaminated sludge at the Georgia-Pacific plant was never acted upon by the EPA. Undeterred, we are working with the Georgia EPD to stop the dioxin releases into the subsistence/recreational fishing area in Academy Creek. Throughout Glynn County, continued fishing in our highly contaminated estuary remains a potent health threat to all consuming the seafood.
The GEC "Hotline" was well used over the past year. Roadside herbicide spraying, wetland filling, and reports of environmental violations came to the Hotline. Our campaign to assure the right of citizen access to information was evident from the number of calls for assistance in getting access to permit applications and documents.
GEC educational programs in 2000 included presentations to conferences visiting our area and public education presentations. The "Toxic Tour" of Brunswick and Glynn County continues to be used as a teaching tool about how toxic sites threaten and harm the physical and economic health of minority and low income neighborhoods. We continue to receive requests to repeat the "Toxic Tour".
Looking ahead to 2001, many challenges face our community. The Brunswick peninsula, surrounding marsh, and the minority and low-income neighborhoods near industrial facilities and toxic waste sites remain heavily contaminated. On the Federal level, several legally binding agreements are expected in 2001 for the LCP Chemical Superfund Site, Terry Creek Site, and Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site. Public meetings will be held before the legally binding agreements are made final. Comments, questions, and concerns received from the public will be made part of the legal record. The GEC will make every effort to organize and educate the affected individuals and our community so we can be on the record, obtain the best possible reduction in human health risks, and stimulate natural resource recovery. Furthermore, the GEC will continue to fight all efforts on the local, state, and federal level, to eliminate public participation, and continue to publicize illegal agreements. Whenever possible, the GEC will seek judicial relief to retain our community's right to information and input on decisions that affect our lives. Towards these ends, a challenge grant has been made by the Sapelo Foundation to provide legal assistance to Coastal Georgia through the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF).
Data that has been collected on toxaphene levels at the Hercules Plant, schools, in neighborhoods, and the estuary has come under serious scrutiny as to its accuracy. The GEC has documented how the true levels of this pesticide have been covered-up in our community. We will continue to work with local, state, and federal health officials to get meaningful testing and removal of the millions of pounds of this poison released onto our schools yards, neighborhoods, and into the estuary.
Restoration of our damaged
natural resources is threatened by continued unwise development. The GEC will
continue to work with the Greenspace program in the coming year to preserve our
most sensitive natural areas and reduce further environmental degradation. Our
continued work with resource restoration projects and green space preservation
promises to make meaningful improvements in the quality of life in Coastal
Georgia as we recover from our industrial legacy.