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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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Glynn Environmental Coalition 2004 Annual Report

The Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) has made significant progress during 2004 on community organizing, legal initiatives, and telling our story through the increased media interest that lead up to the G8 Summit in June. Unforeseen were plans to build an elementary school on a contaminated property and  to locate asphalt plants next to neighborhoods, which we mobilized to defeat.   We can attribute much of our recent progress to community organizing, networking, partnerships and coordination between local, state and regional organizations and agencies.

 Clean Schools

 Two projects to protect school children are ongoing: 1.) Schoolyard testing project; and 2.) Proposed Habersham Street Elementary School Site.

 1.) 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.  The Board of Education approved our proposed sampling and analysis plan in November 2001.  Three schoolyards and a recreational facility were sampled and analyzed, and the final report released in early November 2002.  Glynn Schools took action to address the most contaminated areas before the GEC presented results at the November Board of Education meeting.  

In 2005 - The Glynn County Health Department is producing a health assessment based on the results of the schoolyard testing. The assessment will be released in early 2005.  Effort will be made to work with the Parent Teacher Association in getting a cleanup at the Goodyear Elementary School.

2.) Historical photographs of the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site indicated that dumping activity had taken place on or near the proposed Habersham Street School Site.  In November 2003, the GEC reported our concerns to the Board of Education.   Further sampling was conducted, which found hazardous chemicals and solid waste on the property.  As a result of our efforts, the Board of Education has abandoned plans to build an elementary school on the Habersham Street site, but we will have to remain diligent until an alternative school site is selected.

In 2005 – We will continue monitor BOE school site selection to assure that an elementary school is not built on the contaminated Habersham Street site.

 Toxic Air Emissions

 We learned that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) was 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 EPD to consider all sources of toxic chemicals and potential health effects when issuing air permits, they have refused to do so.  The GEC, in partnership with the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation and the 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.  In January 2004, we filed in Federal Court, and received an “unresponsive” response from the EPA on April 26, 2004. Per the recent settlement agreement, the U.S. EPA must issue an opinion on GEC’s petition. 

In 2005 – We just received the U.S. EPA decision, which sided with the Georgia EPD and Hercules (this was expected), but the EPA decision gives us a basis for appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals because it did not address the documented unhealthful air releases. 

 Asphalt Plants

 Two Asphalt plants are seeking permits to locate in Brunswick next to  neighborhoods.  The Whitlock Avenue neighborhood was organized in late 2003, but an air permit was issued for the plant in early 2004.  South Brunswick residents have fought the Lanier Boulevard asphalt plant hard.  We met on June 29  for a public information meeting, July 7 with the City Commission, July 14  with the Downtown Development Authority, and the July 22 public hearing on the air permit.  Local government support against the asphalt plants has been strong.  No air permit has been issued for the Lanier asphalt plant, which is in part due to our ongoing air case and current unhealthy air.

In 2005 – With the widening of I-95, we expect many more asphalt plants to try to locate in minority and low income areas.  Community organizing will be key to keeping asphalts plant out of areas that already have unhealthful air.

 Georgia-Pacific NPDES Permit

 The Georgia-Pacific NPDES permit (contaminated water release permit) appeal is in progress through the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest, and in partnership with Altamaha Riverkeeper, in an effort to reverse the ecological decline of Turtle River.  Settlement talks have resulted in a one-year study of Turtle River and the Pulp Mill’s discharge. The GEC is conducting monthly supplemental sampling in response to suspicious activity by the Pulp Mill during sampling events in March and October 2004.

In 2005 – The GEC and Altamaha Riverkeeper will continue to do monthly sampling, which suggests biased sampling is being conducted under the settlement.  Working with Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest, we are formulating an action plan to address this problem.

 Subsistence Fishermen Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project

 The GEC was approved for an EPA Environmental Justice Grant for a Subsistence Fishermen Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project in September 2003.  The award was received in August 2004, and this project is just starting.

In 2005 – Our primary community education campaign in 2005 will be community awareness of extensive seafood contamination, with a focus on subsistence fishers who have the greatest health risk.

 Greenspace      

Building on work started in 2000, the GEC has worked with our partner organizations on proposed resource restoration projects for Turtle River as part of the Resource Damages Claim for the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site.  One project is moving forward, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting funding to complete preliminary work for the otter underpass on the Sea Island causeway to reduce road kills This will also restore estuary hydrology in this area.

In 2005 – We hope to complete preliminary work in 2005 and be ready to start the Sea Island Causeway otter underpass and hydrology project in 2006. 

 Community Organizing/Technical Assistance          

The GEC continued to provide technical assistance and organize our community around our four Superfund Sites through GEC projects and EPA technical assistance grants for Brunswick Wood Preserving, Hercules 009 Landfill, LCP Chemicals, and Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall. Progress was made in 2004.                    

Arco Neighborhood Testing and Public Health Assessment - LCP Chemicals Superfund Site

Even though an extensive cleanup of the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site took place over the past five years, many problems remain.  The EPA identified Arco neighborhood testing and a Public Health Assessment as one of the first priority tasks in 1996, but no testing had been done.  Meanwhile, banks were redlining the area and the Arco community was becoming increasingly concerned about neighborhood contamination and health risks. We formed a partnership to support their revitalization efforts with community organizing and technical assistance. 
May 22, 2004
– At the community meeting, the EPA was told that the proposed sampling plan was unacceptable, and the ATSDR toxicologist told the EPA that the test results would be insufficient to determine if there are health threats in the Arco neighborhood.  A much-improved sampling plan was released in late August 2004.
November 1, 2004
– Arco neighborhood sampling started. 

In 2005 - Arco sampling results are expected in February 2005. Community meetings will be conducted to review the results and discuss cleanup expectations or the need for expanded sampling, if needed. 

Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site

Community organizing around the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site was very successful. Organizing efforts in 2002 resulted in placement of monitoring wells between the Site and residential wells in 2004, which had been used as monitoring wells for the Superfund Site.  Residents could have drunk contaminated water for over a year before testing uncovered any problems.  Unfortunately, no progress has been made in stopping drainpipe discharges from the Site to Burnett Creek.

In 2005 – We just received the Remedial Design, which we will review and report upon.  The Site is one of 7 Superfund Sites, which were not funded for cleanup in the 2005 Federal budget.  A meeting with our Senators and Congressman will be held with the community to discuss making the cleanup funding a priority.

Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site

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 case was transferred to the EPA Inspector General's Office in April 2002. The GEC case concerns the EPA's failure to follow the law during the remediation of the Hercules 009 Site, and development of an analytical method to hide toxaphene pesticide at 5 toxic sites in our community.
In 2005 - The EPA Inspector General is currently conducting a full review of activities that led to the development of the bias toxaphene analytical method.  The final report is expected late in April 2005.  A community meeting will be planned when the Inspector General’s report is released.

 GEC Members and Supporters

 The progress the GEC has made during 2004 would not be possible without the help of our members and supporters.  We are grateful to all who donated their time, effort, and financial assistance by becoming a member, renewing their membership or making a donation, including grants from:

   - Sapelo Foundation
   - Norman Foundation
   - Public Welfare Foundation
   - Resist
   - Community Toolbox for Children’s Environmental Health
   - Norcross Wildlife Foundation

 
     

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