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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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Glynn Environmental Coalition 2003 Annual Report

 Partnerships Prevail In 2003

   The Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) has made significant progress during 2003 and looks forward to 2004.  Several new partnerships have been formed during the past year through community organizing and education efforts.  Most notable is our new partnership with Color Purple Ministries and the Arco United Methodist Church, which serve the area around the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site. We can attribute much of our progress to the networking, partnerships and coordination that's been developed over the past few years between local, state and regional organizations and agencies, i.e., Residents United for Planning and Action, Sierra Club, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center, Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, and Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest. 

Legal Assistance Gets Results

   Chronic problems with unhealthful air, unwise permitting and development led to the GEC and our local partner organizations to seeking legal assistance in 2000.  Working with the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF), Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), and Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest, several cases are ongoing. 

Brunswick Clean Air Initiative Moving to Court

   After doing research and obtaining the needed documents, the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) filed a sixty-day notice of intent to suit on behalf of the GEC in 2001, which resulted in draft air permits being issued for Brunswick industries.  We commented on the draft air permits and requested public hearings held the Fall of 2002 that were well attended.  When the Georgia EPD responded to our comments, we learned that they were refusing to obey the law that requires them to consider "... air pollution in quantities or characteristics of a duration which is injurious ...".

   Even though Georgia Law requires the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to consider the cumulative impact of toxic chemicals and potential health effects when issuing air permits, they have refused to do so.  The GEC, in partnership with the LEAF and Center for a Sustainable Coast, filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator in January 2003, which is the last administrative appeal before filing in Federal Court, to force the Georgia EPD to follow the law.   

   Status - The GEC has waited since January 2003 for the EPA's reply to our appeal.  LEAF has completed our court filing against the EPA to force a decision on our request to object to recently issued air permits due to cumulative impacts not being addressed by the Georgia EPD.  A complaint has been prepared by LEAF and will be filed in January 2004. 

Public Health Assessment Finds Toxaphene Analysis Flaws

    GEC requested that LEAF write the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry regarding the Final Public Health Assessment (PHA) for the Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Area/Hercules Outfall. LEAF wrote Robert C. Williams, Director of the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on May 30, 2001 concerning that agency’s failure to complete its PHA for the Terry Creek Dredged Spoil Area andHercules Outfall. This is a non-discretionary duty. LEAF requested that the ATSDR promptly complete the assessment and advise us of the anticipated date for completion.

   Status - The Public Health Assessment (PHA) has been completed, and supports the GEC's contention that the pesticide Toxaphene analytical method developed for only Glynn County has been under reporting actual levels in seafood, which resulted in a serious threat to human health.  In response to the PHA, the EPA, Georgia EPD, and Hercules are currently completing a study of analytical methods which is expected in January 2004.

 Ombudsman Case Becomes EPA Inspector General Investigation

   The GEC has an active EPA National Ombudsman case concerning the EPA's failure to follow the law during the remediation of the Hercules 009 Site.  The EPA has transferred the case from the Ombudsman’s office to the EPA Inspector General’s Office.

Status - LEAF continues to advise the GEC as to our options.  Currently, we are waiting for the Five-Year Review, and the Final Remedial Action Report, which will allow us to seek legal relief.  Our 10 years of documenting EPA's efforts to thwart community's attempts to have our legally mandated rights enforced has built a strong case.  A ruling by the EPA Inspector General is expected after the Five-Year Review is released in January 2004.

Man Head Marina Case Settled Favorably

   In an effort to prevent unwise development, the Man Head Marina Coastal Resources Division permit was appealed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, GEC, and several other environmental organizations. The Man head Marina Coastal Resources Division Permit appeal has been won twice in court, but the ruling has been appealed by the Georgia Attorney General's office each time.  In December 2003, a favorable settlement was reached.

Pulp Mill Pollution Case Continues

   The Georgia-Pacific NPDES 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.  Settlement talks have resulted in a proposed settlement on the Georgia-Pacific NPDES permit, which is before the court.  One year of sampling the Georgia-Pacific Pulp Mill's water discharge for temperature and color will take place before the case is finally settled.  Currently, issues around the proposed sampling plan for Turtle River are being resolved.

Schoolyard Testing Complete, Health Dept. Doing Health Assessment

   Concern about the levels of organic chlorinated chemicals at Goodyear Elementary and Borroughs-Molette Elementary, Risley Middle Schools, and Edo Miller/Lanier Field led the GEC to test the schoolyards.  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.

   A partnership with the Health Department, Board of Education (BOE), and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography lead to BOE approving our proposed sampling and analysis plan in November 2001. A work plan was developed, three schoolyards and a recreational facility were sampled and analyzed.

   Status - The final report was released in early November 2002, and Glynn Schools took action to address the most contaminated areas before the GEC presented results at the November Board of Education meeting. The Glynn County Health Department is currently working on a health assessment based on the results of the schoolyard testing, which is expected in the Spring of 2004. 

Superfund Site 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 Site. 

   Community organizing around the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site was very successful.  We reviewed of the Remedial Design Work Plan and produced a Technical Assistance Report.  Outstanding issues are: 1.) Placement of monitoring wells between the Site and residential wells; and, 2.) Stopping the discharge from the drainpipe from the Site to Burnett Creek.  Many calls were received about the bulldozing of soil and debris into Burnett Creek, and the inaction of theEPA to correct the problem.  We continue to monitor EPA's activities at the Site.

   Status: Monitoring wells have been installed between the Site and residential wells, and we are waiting for the results from the first round of testing.  No progress was made on stopping the discharge of diesel fuel and pentachlorophenol (wood preservative also called PCP) to Burnett Creek.  A Remedial Design (containment plan) is expected in 2004.

   The Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site Five-Year Review and a study about the adequacy of Site monitoring wells is expected in January 2004.  Many questions about the Site remain unanswered (See Ombudsman Case Becomes EPA Inspector General Investigation).

   Even though an extensive cleanup of the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site took place over the past five years, many problems remain.  Even though the EPA identified Arco neighborhood testing and a Public Health Assessment as one of the first priority tasks in 1996, no testing has been done.  In the Fall of 2002, GEC assistance was requested by the Arco United Methodist Church and Color Purple Ministries.  We formed a partnership to support their revitalization efforts with community organizing and technical assistance.   We are currently continuing our unified effort though our Congressman's office, and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry Ombudsman, while continuing community organizing.  After our September 3, 2003 community meeting, the EPA agreed to test the Arco neighborhood, and a sampling plan is expected in the first quarter of 2004.

   There has been much concern about the threat to our drinking water supply from the ~300,000 pounds of mercury that remains in a pool of caustic brine with a pH of 13 below the LCP Chemical Superfund Site.   Horizontal wells were drilled and sampled under the limestone layer that was expected to prevent mercury from entering our drinking water aquifer.  Even though we were assured that crystal clear pure water would be found, results show that mercury and other chemicals have penetrated the limestone and are present above drinking water standards.  Further investigation of this threat to our drinking water is expected in 2004.

   The Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall Site EPA Emergency Response and Removal in Terry Creek was completed in 2001.  Most work at the Site has been stopped until the toxaphene analytical methods study is completed.  

Georgia EPD Superfund Sites

    The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will be making decisions on several State Superfund sites in 2004, including the 4th Street Landfill, T-Street Dump, Lanier Plaza, O’Brian Paints and Hercules Plant.  The GEC helped residents around these Sites, and assisted with review/comment on the proposed plans.            

 

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