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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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Glynn Environmental Coalition 2001 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.  Looking back at what worked, and did not work in reaching our goals, the GEC made changes in how we approach and seek solutions and made several changes in during 2001.   Legal advice and assistance along with technical assistance was used to identify priority projects and develop a strategy for making meaningful changes to decades old practices that threaten our health and environment.  The GEC has been working to correct historical pollution from our industrial legacy, stop the release of toxic chemicals, and promote restoration of our damaged natural resources.

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 2002 for the LCP Chemical Superfund Site, Terry Creek Site, and Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site.  Public meetings will be held before these legally 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.

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 many tons of this poison released onto our schools yards, neighborhoods, and into the estuary. 

Clean Schools

Concern remains about the levels of organic chlorinated chemicals at Goodyear Elementary and Borroughs-Molette Elementary, Risley Middle Schools, and Edo Miller/Lanier Field.  Two schools, Goodyear and Borroughs-Mollette, were tested in 1996 and the results showed areas to be concerned about.  Since 1996, problems have been identified with how the schools were tested. 

We do know that chlorinated chemicals are present on the schoolyard.  First results indicated high levels of the pesticide toxaphene on the schoolyards, but results were reinterpreted to toxaphene and “other chlorinated chemicals” or “unknown chemicals”.  One soil sample did kill quickly, showing acute toxicity.

The problem with previous testing is the method used has been shown to under estimate or fail to identify toxaphene, and does not answer the question, “What chemicals are on the schoolyard”.  The GEC investigate our concern by reviews studies, data, and history of toxaphene manufacturing and release throughout Brunswick and Glynn County, met repeatedly with the Health Department Director and Superintendent of Schools about problems identified and potential solutions; conducted additional research, found new information, consulted with experts; and developed a sampling and analysis plan for the schools.  On November 12th, the Glynn County Board of Education passed our proposed sampling plan.  Results are expected in the Spring of 2002. A meaningful final solution to this ongoing health threat to our children remains one of the GEC's highest priorities.

Technical Assistance  

The GEC continued providing technical assistance on our four Superfund Sites through EPA technical assistance grants for Brunswick Wood Preserving, Hercules 009 Landfill, LCP Chemicals, and Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall. 

Community organizing around the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site was very successful.  Several meetings with our technical advisors, Dr. Pegg and Dr. Saunders, were held in preparation for the EPA Proposed Plan to contain the Site.  On July 26th, the EPA presented their plan, but was unable and unwilling to answer many of our questions, which have been resubmitted as comments during the legally mandated comment period.  The Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) helped with comments on the outrageously high dioxin cleanup level set for the Site.  Concerns remain about children playing on the Site and in Burnett Creek, consumption of contaminated seafood, continuing discharge of chemicals to the creek, and spread of groundwater contamination. 

EPA wrongdoing at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site was documented and sent to the EPA National Ombudsman’s office which took the case.  The National Ombudsman case is moving slowly while the EPA Ombudsman Reauthorization Act makes its way through both houses of Congress.  The GEC continues to work with the national effort towards the establishment of an independent EPA National Ombudsman through the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and networking with other Ombudsman case communities.

Even though an extensive cleanup of the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site took place over the past five years, many problems remain.  A large pool of caustic brine and mercury threatens our groundwater.  The brine pool dissolved the soil under the plant buildings, which resulted in them becoming dangerous and being torn down.  The brine pool now threatens to dissolve the limestone protective layer above our water supply and release the 2-3 hundred thousand pounds of mercury.  Chemicals continue to seep into the estuary and re-contaminate areas previously cleaned up.  The EPA expects to present a Proposed Plan for the marsh and uplands in the Spring of 2002, and for the groundwater at a later date.  The GEC is currently reviewing all Site documents in preparation for community organizing and education in preparation for the EPA’s Proposed Plan for the Site.

The Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall Site remains an area of concern for many reasons.  Several million pounds of toxaphene were dumped in the estuary during the time Hercules manufactured the pesticide, contaminating seafood and causing ecological destruction.  The EPA Emergency Response and Removal in Terry Creek was completed in 2001, but the sediments were air-dried on quarter mile from an elementary school.  Air transport of toxaphene is a well-documented local and international problem.  Still, the EPA Region 4 states that toxaphene does not air transport or threaten the citizens of Brunswick, Georgia.  The GEC continues to work with local, state, national, and international agencies and organizations to end air-drying of toxaphene and overturn the biased analytical method developed for use in only Glynn County, Georgia.  During 2002, the GEC will continue these efforts while reviewing study plans and data from the Site.  Seafood sampling results are expected in the Spring of 2002.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will be making decisions on several State Superfund sites in 2002, including the 4th Street Landfill, T-Street Dump, Hercules Plant, and Old Sterling Landfill.  The GEC will continue to help residents around these Sites, and review/comment on the proposed plans.

 Legal Assistance 

In 2001, the greatest change in how the GEC approaches developing solutions to environmental problems were the addition of legal assistance and initiation of legal actions.  Through a challenge grant from the Sapelo Foundation, the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) has provided legal assistance.  LEAF is working on the unpermitted process at the Hercules Plant and to end release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals to the air each year.  Documents have been requested from the EPA so LEAF can continue to work on the Toxaphene Under Quantification case.   The GEC/LEAF work to have the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) release the withheld Terry Creek Site Public Health Assessment (PHA) has moved it forward, and release is expected soon.  In an effort to prevent unwise development, the Manhead Marina Coastal Resources Division permit is under appeal by the Southern Environmental Law Center, GEC, and several other environmental organizations.  The Georgia-Pacific NPES permit (contaminated water release permit) appeal is in progress through the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest, in an effort to reverse the ecological decline of Turtle River.

Greenspace

Building on work in 2000 and 2001, the GEC presented our research about prospective Greenspace on October 25th to the Glynn County Greenspace Committee.  Committee members said it was the first time preservation of aquifer recharge areas had been discussed in relation to Greenspace.  Four GEC members serve on the Greenspace committee.  Discussions about the preservation of several hundred acres along Turtle River, as part of the Resource Damages Claim for the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site, continue with regulators, stakeholders, and industry.

 

Presentations and Networking

 

The GEC presented many educational programs and presentations throughout the year, and networked extensively with other organizations.  We started the year with an educational program "Keep Space for Peace", assisted with the "Growing Wisely on the Coast Conference", and participated in the "Green Chat" meeting with the media.  Working with South Carolina Environmental Watch, the GEC provided technical assistance to empower the minority and low-income Appleton County, SC residents in their fight to protect their drinking water from a leaking landfill and stop placement of another landfill on top of the existing one.

The Lake Superior Binational Forum (LSBF) wrote a letter of support of our efforts to stop the air-drying of toxaphene and the implementation of a valid toxaphene analytical method. The (LSBF) received an "unresponsive" reply to their letter from the EPA.  We continue to work with our northern neighbors to stop toxaphene transport via air-drying.  Still, further toxaphene air-drying was approved for the O'Brien Site near the Goodyear Elementary School.

In addition to technical assistance meetings, the GEC completed our educational display and presented at CoastFest and the Exchange Club Fair.  In addition to questions, many people expressed support for the work of the GEC, and others sent email about being “disturbed” that we presented information about polluting industries.

Advocacy and Comments

Often networking with several other organizations, the GEC researched and submitted comments and recommendations on "permit to pollute" requests, site investigation and cleanup plans, and potentially unwise development, including the following.

- Rayonier Pulp Mill NPDES Permit

- Old Sterling Landfill Corrective Action Plan

- Georgia-Pacific Dioxin Basin

- Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site Studies and Data

- Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site

- LCP Chemical Superfund Site Human Health Risk Assessment

- O'Brien Paints Site Compliance Status Report and Corrective Action Plan

- EPA National Ombudsman Guidelines and the Reauthorization Act

- T Street Dump Compliance Status Report

- Toxaphene Under Quantification (USEPA, Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Health Dept./Glynn Board of Education)

- Hercules 009 Superfund Site - EPA National Ombudsman Interrogatories

- Manhead Marina Coastal Resources Division Permit

- Georgia-Pacific NPDES Permit

- Hercules Air Releases/Title V Permit

- 4th Street Landfill Compliance Status Report

- Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site ATSDR review of studies and EPA Proposed Plan

- Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall Site Investigation and Study Work Plans

Organizational Development 

Improvement in GEC organizational development and membership training is ongoing.  The GEC Board has been working on a plan to improve organizational development in 2002.  In 2001, several workshops were attended, including:

- "Benchmarks for Success" workshop by the Institute for Conservation Leadership

- League of Conservation Voters Environmental Leadership Institute

- Institute of Medicine "Rebuilding the Unity of Health and the Environment in the SE United States"

- Aca-Net Conference

- Brownfields 2001

- Media “Spin” Workshop sponsored by LEAF

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