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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
Phone: 912-466-0934
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A Look Back at 2006 and
Forward to 2007
 

 
 

   Building on our recent success, the GEC expects several changes to take place over the next year.  Recent success in overturning the biased toxaphene analytical method will be built upon to assure all toxaphene sites in Glynn County are cleaned up.  Current work by the GEC has already resulted in a reduction of toxic air releases, but we will continue to seek enforcement of the law, organize parents of school children, and partner with the NAACP, which will reduce toxic air even further. We will continue to be involved in protection of water resources through partnerships to assure wise planning and permitting on the local and state level.  Our victories and successes are being noticed by local politicians, developers, and investors.  Increasingly, the combination of our successes and our message that a clean environment and a health economy are inseparable is forming diverse partnerships and a common vision for our community’s future. 

   The Glynn Environmental Coalition learned how our community became so polluted and why we continue to have health-threatening pollution, and developed a long-term action plan.  We learned how the law was being circumvented so industries could continue polluting our air, water, and soil, hide toxic chemicals in our community, and keep from cleaning up their toxic waste sites.  Our schools, low income and minority neighborhoods, and the hospital are located in the most polluted areas. Holding environmental agencies and polluting industries responsible has required the GEC to make a commitment to correct problems while unforeseen and emerging environmental threats have required quick action and community organizing. 

Current Political Climate - Never in the 16 year history of the GEC has the political climate been so unfavorable or corruption been so high.   Our air case results, efforts to end hiding toxaphene poison, and EPA refusal to provide information to our Congressman demonstrate how extreme the problem has become.  Conversely, the breakdown at the federal level has increased political and media support at the local and state level for a clean environment and healthy economy.  The realization that a clean environment is crucial and inextricably linked to the future economic viability of our community has grown over the past year. 

 

 
    

Air Issues

 

Air Permit Legal Case Loss Results in Cleaner Air, New Partnerships, New Strategy

   In partnership with the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, the GEC filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator in January 2003 to consider the health impact from all permitted toxic air releases.  The U.S. EPA answered our complaint in late April 2004 but did not make a determination, and Hercules and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) intervened in the case.

 
 


The EPA agreed the law was enforceable but denied our petition and an appeal was filed June 2005 in the 11
th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Instead of enforcing the law, in early 2006 the EPA removed the law and requested the case be dismissed as moot since the law we brought our case under no longer existed.  The air case was dismissed in August 2006.

In 2007: Victory in the Air Case Loss - EPA looked at air pollution from the Hercules Plant, polluting processes were shut down, and air quality improved.  Both politicians and developers in Brunswick now realize Hercules is a significant economic stumbling block and have noted our success.  We are building off their inquiries into "What can we do about the Hercules problem?" with meetings and new partnerships.   

New Partnerships and Strategy - One asphalt plant received an air permit in minority and low income neighborhoods, and a second asphalt plant was just permitted right next to the first.  The GEC and the new leadership of the Brunswick NAACP are working together to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids clustering polluting industries in minority neighborhoods.  We formed partnerships with residents, churches, schools, businesses, and landlords for the public hearing in late August 2006.

In 2007:  The GEC and NAACP are discussing a Civil Rights Act complaint against the Georgia EPD (air permit) and Glynn County (zoning change to allow a polluting industry by the Planning Commission and approval of the land use by the County Commission).  The NAACP has decided to defer their decision until their January 2007 Board meeting.  Most of our elected officials now understand that changes do need to be made in order to correct procedures that disproportionately locate polluting industries in minority/low income areas and near our schools, but there is some resistance.

   Organizing has resulted in an initiative to consider risk to children at established schools when planning and approving polluting land uses, which was supported by the chairmen of the County and Planning Commissions, but has met resistance from the Board of Education Chairman, David Smith, the retired Hercules plant manager.

 

Water Issues

    The GEC is working on several water related projects in coordination with other coastal and statewide  organizations and the Georgia Water Coalition.  Meetings in 2005-6 to coordinate efforts will continue in 2007.

 Georgia Water Management Plan:  The GEC has been actively involved reviewing and commenting on the Draft Georgia Water Management plan.

In 2007:  The final Georgia Water Management Plan is expected in 2007.  The GEC will continue to work with our partners to comment on subsequent draft management plans.

 Upland Stakeholder Committee:  Legal successes in challenging developments seeking Coastal Marshland Protection Act permits led to the formation of the Upland Stakeholder Committee.  The GEC has actively commented during the process and, as part of our partnerships, is serving in a support role by videotaping every Committee meeting.  State of Georgia appeals of recent court victories has undermined the Committee process.

In 2007: In partnership with coastal organizations, we will be working to prevent the current state efforts to write rules weakening the Marshlands Protection Act, which would allow developers to determine if their project has any impact.
 

 
 

Buy Dry Land Campaign – In partnership with other organizations, the Buy Dry Land campaign was kicked off on November 18, 2006.  The purpose of the educational campaign is to warn home buyers about the residential developments built in wetlands and the potential for flooding, thereby reducing wetland development which is rampant on the Georgia coast.

In 2007: As we emerge from the drought, there will be increased flooding of homes built in wetlands and the areas surrounding these developments, which will be used to reinforce the Buy Dry Land educational campaign.  “A Swamp Always Remembers it is a Swamp,” which will become evident to those who have purchased homes built in wetlands. 
 

    
 

Regulatory Loopholes that Allow Georgia-Pacific Pulp Mill 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. Some permit changes were made through settlement talks, but color and temperature remain issues.  As part of the settlement, a one-year study plan of the Mill’s wastewater was made part of the permit. The GEC and ARK did additional sampling of the Pulp Mill’s wastewater during the five sampling events in 2005.   The GEC obtained temperature and dissolved oxygen levels, aerial photographs, and samples for laboratory analysis.
 

 
  In 2007: Overwhelming evidence of pollution from the pulp mill was presented to Georgia-Pacific during a 2006 meeting, but they denied any impact to Turtle River.  The pulp mill NPDES permit came up for renewal in September 2006.  In partnership with Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest and Altamaha Riverkeeper, the GEC submitted comments and specific NPDES permit requirements using the documentation and studies we have completed.   Currently, we are waiting for the response from the Georgia EPD, which will determine if a Court appeal of the NPDES permit is necessary.

Groundwater Contamination:

    Three areas in Glynn County have extreme groundwater contamination, which the GEC is working to get cleaned.  Utilizing previous community organizing around these sites will be crucial to our success.

   A. 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 our drinking water aquifer.  The GEC media and education campaign and the GA-EPD’s urgent request that the EPA take immediate action have resulted in a plan to address the mercury/caustic brine pool.  The July 2006 start date has passed. 

In 2007:  Continuing community organizing in the Arco neighborhood, along with community education and continuing media support, will focus on getting a real clean-up begun.  The GEC expects to hold several community meetings concerning the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site in 2007.
 

 
 


B.
Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site – EPA secrecy has been the greatest obstacle in getting action at the Site.  The containment plan is complete but due to the “orphan” status of the site federal Superfund money will be needed to implement the plan.  The EPA has refused to provide the GEC or our Congressman any information about how the Site is ranked for funding or when containment of contaminated groundwater will begin, and refused to take action to stop flooding of neighborhoods next to the Superfund Site.  Working with Congressman Kingston, we recently received notice of an EPA commitment of funding.

 


A four acre pond of creosote at the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site 

 
 

In 2007: Efforts to break EPA secrecy will continue through our Congressman, who was told by the EPA, "We can't give you the information.”  The question to be answered in 2007, "Is the EPA answerable to Congress?"  The GEC will hold community meetings prior to EPA starting work at the Site.
 

 
  Toxic and Superfund Sites  
 

 


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. The GEC has continued our media campaign about Hercules, “A bad neighbor” (a play on Hercules’ slogan “A good neighbor”). During 2006 we have received repeated calls from Brunswick City government and politicians about, "What to do about the Hercules problem", and clear indications that the "welcome mat" has been taken in for Hercules.

In 2007:  We will continue building partnerships and educating about why polluting industries that do not clean up their toxic wastes are economically

 
  destructive to our community.  This approach is resulting in reduced health risks to minority/low income areas and schools.   We will build off recent meetings with developers and investors who see Hercules as a significant threat to economic growth.  Our message that a clean environment and healthy economy are inseparable is fostering new partnerships.  With 2007 being the 20th anniversary of the Hercules Plant being ordered to investigate the extent of toxic waste and their failure to do so, an educational series will chronicle how Hercules subverts attempts to control their toxic wastes and continues to be a Bad Neighbor.

      Toxic Waste Sites – Significant progress has been made in investigating and cleaning up 14 of the 17 toxic sites in Glynn County. The exceptions are the 4th Street Landfill, T Street Dump, and Hercules Plant.  Common to the Sites where the investigations are incomplete is that Hercules is a potentially responsible party and has consistently produced substandard work.

In 2007:  The GEC will continue to work towards our goal of all toxic sites investigations being completed, which is the first step to protect our health and develop cleanup plans. 
 

      Testing Neighborhoods Next to Superfund Sites - We were successful in organizing the Arco neighborhood next to the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site and getting part of the neighborhood sampled, which found isolated areas of lead contamination.  In partnership with the Health Department, free blood lead level testing is being offered and promoted.

In 2007:  Arco residents want expanded testing, particularly in the African- American sections of Arco that were historically part of industrial operations.  We will continue community organizing and work towards comprehensive testing of Arco during community meetings.  

 

 
 

Stop Superfund Site from Flooding NeighborhoodsThe Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site overflowed and contaminated water ran through residential neighborhoods around the Site.  No action has been taken by the EPA to stop future flooding.

In 2007: A priority will be EPA action to contain the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site and stop the continued spread of toxic chemicals into residential neighborhoods and Burnett Creek.

 

 


Changing the Toxaphene Analytical Method Which Hides Pesticide in Our Community
-- 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.  GEC efforts evolved into an EPA Inspector General’s case.  The Inspector General issued two reports late in 2005:  The first report covered EPA’s failure to follow the law at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site, and a second report concerned the toxaphene cover-up ramifications for 15 other Superfund sites nation-wide.

   The cover-up of toxaphene in our community has been exposed and valid analysis has temporarily replaced the biased method used previously.  In EPA Region 4’s June 20, 2006, response to the Inspector General’s investigation, they proposed only measuring 3 of the 800 chemicals in toxaphene (proposing a new way to hide the poison). The GEC responded to the EPA Region 4’s response to the Inspector General’s findings, and worked with the National Resource Defense Council, other national organizations, and agencies to expose this attempt to once again hide toxaphene poison in our community and around the country.

In 2007: The GEC will continue to push for re-sampling of all toxaphene contaminated areas previously sampled by the biased method, including Altama Elementary School, neighborhoods, and 6 toxic sites containing toxaphene.
 

   

Cleanup Plan for Terry Creek Like other toxaphene contaminated sites in Glynn County, Hercules has failed to complete the investigation of the Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall Site since ordered to do so in 1996.  While toxaphene was manufactured, an estimated 2 to 3 million pounds of this powerful poison were released into Terry Creek and remain a threat to the environment and people eating seafood.

In 2007:  The GEC will continue to advocate for an end to EPA and Hercules inaction at the site.  The EPA argued that the EPA Inspector General needed to complete his investigation of the biased toxaphene analytical method.  Now that the correct analytical method has been identified by the Inspector General, Hercules and the EPA have no further excuses to delay the investigation of the site.
 

 
   

Education and Health

    
Subsistence Fishers Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project

The GEC and our partners (Glynn County Health Dept. and the GA Dept. of Natural Resources) developed and have distributed more than 20,000 advisory hand-outs in 2005-6.  Over 2,000 subsistence and recreational fishers were contacted one-on-one at fishing spots in the advisory area by GEC community outreach workers. 

In 2007:  We have printed an additional 12,000 updated flyers in English and Spanish, and are continuing community outreach to subsistence fishing areas through volunteer efforts.  If adequate funding is obtained, these efforts will be greatly expanded in 2007.   Laminated advisories will continue to be posted in subsistence fishing areas.  The GEC has been invited to guest teach in Glynn County middle schools in 2007, educating about "Contaminated Seafood and Your Health", which stresses the importance of young women avoiding the chemicals in fish that will be passed to their unborn children during fetal development.  Other key teaching points are about endocrine disrupters, the precautionary principle, and less toxic alternatives.  The GEC has also been invited to present to community organizations, Kids Day America, and other events.

 

 

   

GEC at Kids Day America 2006

 

 

GEC at Kids Day America in 2006

Organizational Development

 

Organizational Development Workshop --

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

Other OD:
   
The GEC utilized the services of the Georgia Center For Nonprofits for numerous local trainings.  We also continued to contract for part-time organizational development services.


First National  Conference on the Precautionary Principle --

Two GEC members attended the First National Precautionary Principle Conference in Baltimore. We learned tools to use locally and how the campaign is to be promoted nation-wide.  Main point: We now ask how much harm can be avoided, instead of how much harm will be allowed.

 In 2007: Organizational development training will continue in 2007 through the Georgia Center for Nonprofits which has opened an office in Brunswick and Savannah, greatly reducing costs associated with travel and lodging for such training. The GEC will send more members and volunteers to learn organizational development skills.  The part-time organizational development and volunteer coordinator will continue to organize volunteer efforts and membership training.
 


 
 

Emerging Issues We Anticipate in 2007

  Currently, we are receiving reports that a private company is planning to import New York City waste (up to 11,000 tons per day) to the Port of Brunswick, and transport by rail through poor minority areas of Brunswick to a private landfill in an adjoining county.

  In 2007: The Broadhurst Landfill expanded by over 500 acres in 2006, including access to the railroad.  We continue to form partnerships in anticipation of fighting this plan to turn southeast Georgia into New York City’s dumping ground.

 


GEC members and friends enjoy great food
and entertainment at our June Annual Meeting

 

 

 Members, Supporters, and Volunteers

We are grateful for all the GEC members, supporters, and volunteers who share our vision and have helped in our effort to make our community a safe and healthy place to live and raise our families.  Many of our successes have only come because we have been able to stay diligent over the years it took to prevail due to your continuing support.  Special thank you for the grants from:

          Sapelo Foundation
            Norman Foundation
            Public Welfare Foundation
            Train Foundation

     
 

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