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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
Phone: 912-466-0934
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A Look Back at 2005, and Forward to 2006

The Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) has made significant progress during 2005, earning victories through perseverance, continuing community education, legal initiatives, and telling our story through increased media interest and support. The GEC can attribute much of our recent progress to community organizing, networking, partnerships and coordination between local, state and regional organizations and agencies. We learned how the law was being circumvented so industries could continue polluting our air and water, hide toxic chemicals in our community, and keep from cleaning up their toxic waste sites. Schools, low income and minority neighborhoods, and the hospital are located in the most polluted areas. The GEC developed and implemented an action plan to address identified problems.

Recent Victories and Plans for 2006

Changing the Toxaphene Analytical Method Which Hides Pesticide in Our Community and the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site

The GEC documented the 1991 illegal agreement between the EPA, Georgia EPD, and Hercules chemists to change the analytical method so this poison would not be found at the numerous toxic sites contaminated with toxaphene in Glynn County. We sent our report and documentation to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry toxicologist, who wrote a Public Health Assessment documenting the cover-up of toxaphene in Glynn County through the analytical method. This was a key victory. We also documented illegal agreements between the EPA and Hercules at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site and requested that EPA Headquarters order the legally binding cleanup agreement be enforced. After no response from EPA Headquarters, we sent our documentation and report to the EPA National Ombudsman, which evolved into an EPA Inspector Generalís case.

Status: Huge victory after 9-year effort! The cover-up of toxaphene in our community has been exposed by the EPA Inspector General and valid analysis is replacing the biased method previously used. The U.S. Inspector General (IG) has issued two reports. The first report released September 26, 2005 covers EPAís failure to use appropriate toxaphene analysis at the Hercules 009 Superfund Site and recommended the analytical method we have been advocating. The second IG report addressed the need for retesting all Superfund sites nation-wide where the biased analytical method was used, and was released December 21, 2005. The local newspaper editor has supported our call for retesting all areas analyzed by the biased method.

In 2006, we will push for re-sampling of all toxaphene-contaminated areas previously sampled by the biased method. Priority areas are Altama Elementary School that abuts the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site, neighborhoods surrounding the Hercules Plant, followed by 6 toxaphene contaminated toxic sites.

Failure to Test Neighborhoods Next to Superfund Sites

Victory! Our eight-year effort was successful in organizing the Arco neighborhood next to the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site and getting part of the neighborhood sampled by the EPA, which found isolated areas of lead. In partnership with the Health Department, free blood lead level testing is being offered and promoted throughout the Arco community.

Status: Arco residents want expanded testing, particularly in the historical African American sections of Arco.

In 2006, we will continue community organizing and education while working towards comprehensive testing of Arco.

 

EPA Refusal to Test Arco Fishing Pond Forms Partnership

EPA refused to test fish from a popular fishing pond in Arco. We partnered with the Health Department and the Georgia Coastal Fisheries section of the Department of Natural Resources and took fish samples.

Status: The fish had elevated levels of PCB and mercury, and results are being used for a Health Assessment.

In 2006, we expect a completed Health Assessment for soils, air, and seafood for those that live next to the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site, including Arco.

 

LCP Chemicals Superfund Site

Over 300,000 pounds of mercury sit in a pool of caustic brine (pH ~13), which has penetrated the confining layer and is entering a drinking water aquifer. Due to EPA recalcitrance and inaction, the GEC has built community support for action through a media and education campaign.

Status: The GEC will continue our media and education campaign, and build off the GA-EPDís urgent request that the EPA take immediate action. Through building credibility, media support for this campaign has soared.

In 2006, previous community organizing around the Arco neighborhood testing will be utilized to get action, along with community education and media.

 

Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site

EPA secrecy has been the greatest obstacle to getting action at the Site, which is contaminated above and below ground with pentachlorophenol, dioxin, copper chromium arsenate, and creosote. The containment plan is complete but due to the "orphan" status of the site federal Superfund moneys will be needed to implement the plan.

Status: We are working with our Senators and Congressman to overcome EPA secrecy, determine how the Site is ranked for funding, and working on funding to starting containment of the Site. GEC members have waged an active media campaign to generate support and end EPA secrecy.

In 2006, we want, at a minimum, to see the drainpipe which has discharged toxic chemicals to Burnett Creek for over 35 years stopped and funding to start containment.
 

Hercules Plant

Hercules was ordered to determine the extent of plant site contamination in 1987 but has failed to complete the task. Human health risks from groundwater and soil contamination remain uncontrolled. Both the GA-EPDís and EPAís patience is expended.

Status: Previously, local media and Hercules worked against us very effectively. It is time for community education about how Hercules has avoided "doing the right thing for our community". Community and media support will help the GA-EPD and EPA take action against this habitual violator.

In 2006, we will build on the momentum to end the 18-year delay in determining the extent of the toxic problem at the Hercules Plant.
 

Subsistence Fishers Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project

The GEC and our partner agencies (Glynn County Health Dept. and the Dept. of Natural Resources) developed and have distributed more than 20,000 seafood consumption advisory brochures. Copies of the flyers have been made available at more than 14 different government agencies and more than 55 business locations. Signs have been posted at 7 public boat ramps and 10 additional subsistence fishing locations. In addition, they have been distributed at several fishing tournaments and during presentations to schools and civic organizations. The flyers were available at all the local places where fishing licenses may be obtained, including Wal-Mart. Over 2,000 subsistence and recreational fishers were contacted one-on-one at fishing spots in the advisory area by GEC community outreach workers.

Status: Many fishers have moved to areas outside the advisory area to fish for seafood to eat. The project has been completed but we are currently making plans to print an updated version in 2006.

In 2006, we will print additional brochures when the 2006 update is released and do community outreach to subsistence fishing areas.
 

Unregulated Toxic Air Releases

1.) Regulatory Loopholes that Allow Industryís Toxic Air Releases

Choking air pollution was instrumental to the GEC forming 15 years ago and has been a priority from the beginning. Regulatory malfeasance kept us from making any progress until we obtained legal assistance from the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) in 2000.
We commented on the draft air permits and requested public hearings that were well attended. When the GA-EPD responded to our comments, we learned that they were refusing to obey the law that requires them to consider the health impact from all permitted toxic air releases. In partnership with LEAF, the GEC 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 GA-EPD to follow the law. The EPA answered our complaint in late April 2004 but did not make a determination, and Hercules and the GA-EPD intervened in the case. Our EPA suit was filed in U.S. District court after EPA failed for more than a year to make a determination on our request to object to the Title V operating permit for Hercules. Settlement was made in August 2004 requiring EPA to make a determination on the petition within 90 days.

Status: Victory in getting an EPA response but our petition was denied and the response did not address documented unhealthful air releases permitted by the GA-EPD, which was expected. An appeal was filed June 14, 2005 in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hercules, GA-EPD, and EPA requested that the Court not allow oral arguments. Victory Ė we did win and oral arguments start January 27, 2006. On November 29, 2005, the EPA officially proposed removing the Georgia law under which the GEC appealed for relief from toxic air pollution. On December 15, 2005, the EPA filed a motion to stay oral arguments so they can abolish the law in an attempt to end our appeal for clean air.

In 2006 - A decision is expected in 2006 on our case and the EPAís effort to abolish the Georgia air law protecting citizens from toxic chemicals. The GEC is working for air permits that address our unhealthful air. We will continue our community education campaign to build support through the media and presentations to civic organizations, public events, and guest teaching in school classrooms during 2006.
 

2.) New Polluting Industries

The current widening of I-95 has resulted in numerous asphalt plants attempting to locate in highly populated minority and low-income areas of Brunswick, and more are expected. While two were defeated through community organizing, one did get a permit.

In 2006, we expect several asphalt companies to attempt to locate in minority and low-income areas of Brunswick and Glynn County for the widening of I-95. Requests for help is expected, as in 2005.
 

Water Issues

1.) Surface Water Protection - Regulatory Loopholes that Allow Polluted Water Releases

In partnership with the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest and Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK), the GEC appealed the Georgia-Pacific wastewater (NPDES) permit (plant was sold to Koch Cellulose in May 2004). Some permit changes were made through settlement talks, but color and temperature remain issues. As part of the settlement, a one-year study of the Millís wastewater was made part of the permit.

Status: The GEC and ARK did additional sampling of the Pulp Millís wastewater during the five sampling events in 2005 (in partnership with, and recommended by Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest). The GEC obtained dissolved oxygen levels, temperature, and collected samples for laboratory analysis and took aerial photographs.

In 2006, we will release the report being prepared in consultation with Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest concerning sampling conducted by the pulp mill, and next steps are currently under discussion.

2.) Groundwater Protection

The GEC continues to work with the Georgia Water Coalition and our partners in developing comments on the Georgia Sound Science Initiative (SSI), which is developing a groundwater management plan for Coastal Georgia.  Recently, the bankruptcy judge in the Durango Pulp Mill case ruled that the 40 million gallon permit could be auctioned off.  Georgia considers water a public resource that is not for sale.  The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and diversified groups have united to keep water a public resource.

Status Ė With our partner organizations, comments were submitted including our major groundwater contamination areas so they will be included as part of any groundwater use plan for Coastal Georgia.

In 2006, we will continue to be diligent as interest groups such as pulp and paper, farmers, and developers lobby for special interest provisions in the Water Resource Management Plan, and continue working to keep water a public resource with other environmental organizations.
 

Cover-up of Toxic Chemicals on Schoolyards

1.) Goodyear Elementary School Clean-up

The GEC formed a partnership during 2001 with the Health Department, Board of Education (BOE), and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to investigate the cover-up of toxaphene on the schoolyards that had been documented by the GEC.  In November 2001, a proposed sampling plan was approved by the BOE.  A work plan was completed, and three schoolyards and a recreational facility were sampled during April and May of 2002.  The analytical results were presented to the BOE in November 2002.  The Health Department and Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry used our sampling results to complete a Health Assessment and evaluate further action on the school-yards.

Status: Victory! Politics surrounding the G8 Summit delayed the Health Assessment release until March 2005, which was followed by removal of 3500 cubic yards of toxic soil from the schoolyard. The Board of Education said the source of the soil is a mystery, but we have evidence it came from a 1930-1950ís dumpsite related to operations at the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site. We are working on exposing the source of toxic soil so our community does not make the same mistake again.

In 2006, exposing the source of the toxic soil will be a major task. Already, the Board of Education has hired a lawyer to investigate, but has so far refused to look at our evidence supporting the source as the old LCP Chemical Superfund Site dump from the 1930-50ís.


2.) Clean New School Sites

The Board of Education (BOE) proposed a Habersham Street elementary school site. The GEC documented activity from the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site and presented it to the BOE. Testing found toxic and solid waste on the property. The BOE decided in June 2004 to look at other potential school sites, but the GEC remained alert because further attempts were made to use the contaminated site for a school. The final decision on another new school location was made in September 2005, but we continued our efforts until site selection was finalized.
 

Organizational Development

An organizational development workshop is planned for February 25, 2006, with Lois Gibbs from the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice. The workshop will be preceded by a media event and followed by Lois doing a motivational speaking event for our community. Workshop training will include: organizing group structures, how to keep people active, organizing for the long haul, and proactive strategies to move your issues forward.
 

Emerging Issues We Anticipate in 2006

Currently, we are receiving reports that a private company is planning to import New York City waste (up to 11,000 tons per day) through the Port of Brunswick, and transport by rail through poor minority areas of Brunswick to a private landfill in an adjoining county. We continue to form partnerships in anticipation of fighting this plan to turn southeast Georgia into New York Cityís dumping ground.
 

Organizational Changes

The GEC Board voted to add a part-time position in 2006 for organizational development, member database management, volunteer coordination, web site updating, and other duties. We are looking forward to Robert Randallís help in 2006.
 

Thank You to All our Supporters and Volunteers

The work and effort of our members and volunteers is responsible, in large part, for all we have accomplished. The GEC Resource Center exists because members understood how important education and involvement in decisions that effect our health and economy are to our childrenís future. Their help with community organizing, being our eyes and ears out in the community, and bringing emerging issues to our attention are critical to the GECís success. We are grateful for all our members and supporters who share our vision, including grants from:

                          - Sapelo Foundation
                          - Norman Foundation
                          - Public Welfare Foundation

 

 
     
     

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