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.
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.
- 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.
– We will continue monitor BOE school site selection to assure that an
elementary school is not built on the contaminated Habersham Street site.
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 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
– 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.
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.
– 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.
Fishermen Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project
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
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.
– We hope to complete preliminary work in 2005 and be ready to start the Sea
Island Causeway otter underpass and hydrology project in 2006.
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.
Testing and Public Health Assessment - LCP Chemicals Superfund Site
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
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
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.
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
Members and Supporters
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:
- Norman Foundation
- Public Welfare Foundation
- Community Toolbox for Children’s Environmental Health
- Norcross Wildlife Foundation