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
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.
- 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
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 11th
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Water Management Plan:
The GEC has been actively involved reviewing
and commenting on the Draft Georgia Water Management plan.
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brunswick Wood Preserving
– 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.
acre pond of creosote at the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 Neighborhoods –
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.
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
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
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.
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
Cleanup Plan for
Terry Creek –
Like other toxaphene contaminated sites
in Glynn County, Hercules has failed to complete the investigation of
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.
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.
We have printed an additional 12,000 updated flyers in
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 in 2006
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.
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.
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
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
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: