Staying Busy in 2007
Overview of GEC Projects, Initiatives,
and Successes During the First Half of 2007
The Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) has been responding to rapid changes
over the past six months. While the political climate has been
anti-environment, the GEC has identified unique opportunities for
strengthening our organization, obtaining victories, and building new
partnerships. The environmental consciousness of our community is rising
and the GEC is growing with the addition of those seeking ways to express
their beliefs in creation care. Secrecy, and the Bush regime’s desire to
maintain secrecy at any cost, resulted in funding for some containment at
the Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site rather than revealing how
decisions are being made politically.
Partnerships have strengthened through coordination and strategic planning
to address the many important water issues we currently face. Increasingly,
many State and coastal Georgia groups work together on comments and
preparing for public hearings on proposed permits, state water management
plans, and coastal development rules. The GEC has been involved in those
Educational outreach continues with the Contaminated Seafood Awareness
Campaign, guest teaching in schools, helping students with science projects,
and bringing together students, teachers, and researchers. Several
monitoring and testing projects are underway for 2007-8.
Building off our success in exposing the erroneous toxaphene analytical
method, the GEC is working with the Altama Elementary School PTA and school
officials to obtain proper testing of the school property abutting the
Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site to assure that it is safe for
children. Community organizing continues around the LCP Chemicals
Superfund Site in preparation for many EPA meetings in the Fall and early
2008. Key issues are mercury in our drinking water aquifer and testing of
the Arco neighborhood.
The GEC is working through the Environmental Support Center’s two-year
Leadership Enhanced Assistance Project (LEAP) to diversify fundraising and
our Board and to improve public perception of the GEC. Scheduled activities
have been planned to better coordinate and utilize volunteer efforts on
Environmental Coalition (GEC) and our partner environmental organizations
continue working on upland development rules, buffers, erosion and
sedimentation, and the State water management plan through meetings, emails,
comments, and developing winning strategies. Efforts have resulted in
development of comments across organizations and campaign development on the
coastal and State levels. This coordination has resulted in discussion of
diverse issues which increases effective commenting within the minimal time
allotted at public hearings.
recent surge of building homes in wetlands and cypress swamps in Glynn
County will lead to many more homes flooding like the one above. Filling
wetlands removes capacity to hold storm water, flooding established homes
Buy Dry Land Campaign
– The campaign to warn buyers about purchasing homes built in wetlands was
begun in November 2006 and immediately followed by a drought. GEC members
have been taking photos of homes being built in flood-prone areas near where
they live to compare with future photos taken after rains and hydrological
conditions return to normal.
and Buffers - The Georgia
Legislative Session had everyone working hard on obtaining a minimum 50 foot
buffer and proposed rules for developments next to estuarine areas. Efforts
to have minimal buffers become law have met stiff resistance and planning
for the next legislative session is already in progress.
Sedimentation – GEC members have been
out watching for erosion and sedimentation violations, which the GEC has
been reporting for enforcement action on their behalf. This work is largely
done in partnership with the Altama Riverkeeper.
Georgia Water Management Plan
– Many years of work on a Coastal and State-wide water management plan have
raised many concerns about what the final Plan may look like. Concerns
about the Georgia Water Plan degenerating into a scheme to send water to
Atlanta have all organizations very concerned about what the Georgia
Environmental Protection Division’s legislative recommendations might
contain. Repeatedly, the GEC and our partner organizations have stated that
Inter-Basin Transfers (ITB) must be prohibited legislatively. So far, clear
requests to prohibit IBT have been met with obtuse responses.
Members of coastal Georgia organizations
discussed the Water Management Plan with
Dr. Carol Couch after the May 31 public hearing
Altama Elementary School Retesting
EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that inappropriate testing was
used at Altama Elementary School during the containment of the Hercules 009
Landfill Superfund Site. Efforts to have the EPA order appropriate testing
of the playground and areas of the school where toxaphene previously was
found and removed have been met with a refusal to act. We want to remove
all doubts about the safety of the school grounds by having them tested
appropriately. We met with the PTA President and school officials on June
to discuss the need to assure the school grounds are safe, which the PTA
President supported. The Board of Education’s action will be known after
their next meeting.
Environmental Education and Contaminated Seafood Awareness Project
The Contaminated Seafood Awareness project
continues to grow and is fostering new partnerships and opportunities for
community education. We provided our informational flyer and training in
best fish cleaning practices to families participating in the June 9th
Plumbers & Pipefitters Union fishing tournament. We are planning monthly
tours of the fishing areas and docks for GEC members. We are working with
members who want to adopt a fishing area or dock near where they live.
Education/Guest Teaching - We
continue to do guest teaching in our schools. Recently, the GEC was invited
to teach contaminated seafood awareness to classes doing a science project
and cleanup in areas with contaminated seafood.
Teacher, Student, and Researcher Partnerships
- A teacher, student, and researcher are working together to test crabs in
Turtle River for contaminants. While guest teaching, the GEC became aware
of specific families with learning-challenged children who went to
contaminated areas to catch their seafood. The GEC partnered with the
Georgia Marine Extension Service to facilitate funding for this research
GEC Supports Student
Science Fair Projects
– The GEC worked with Robin Jones on her science fair project , which
studied the community’s awareness about seafood contamination. Robin Jones
placed second at the state-wide level.
Honeywell believes the mercury and PCBs should not be cleaned up in the
marsh but rather used to as an outdoor laboratory. Meanwhile, the area
continues to contaminate seafood and remains a risk to those consuming
seafood from Turtle River.
Chemicals Superfund Site
GEC is reviewing several key studies and
reports in preparation for many EPA meetings in the Fall of 2007 leading up
to action at the LCP Site, including:
- Uplands Investigation and proposed legal agreement to contain the Site.
- Implementation plans to remove the mercury and caustic brine pool that is
leaking into a drinking water aquifer. Honeywell and the EPA have been
moving extremely slowly as the contamination quickly expands.
– Reviewed seafood sampling results and advocated for cleanup due to the
dangerous levels of mercury and PCBs.
Lead Level Testing for
Children - Community organizing in
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 Glynn County Health Department, free blood
lead level testing is being offered and promoted throughout the Arco
community. The Health Department has reported to us that parents from the
area have been bringing their children to be tested for lead, some from the
Arco community have elevated levels, and 3 children are currently being
Residents and Glynn County - The GEC
worked with our community to obtain a $50 million dollar judgment against
Honeywell for the polluting of our community, of which $25 million went to
120 families and $25 million to Glynn County. The GEC supported this effort
with community meetings, media, and an education campaign.
– The EPA and parties responsible for the Site have refused to follow
Superfund law and report the full extent of operations, which included the
minority and low-income Arco community. The GEC is preparing to challenge
the legally binding Record of Decision for the LCP Chemicals Soils, and
continues to meet with legal counsel in preparation for action.
The GEC is still feeling the loss of Joel Myers, a community activist in the
African-American section of the most-affected neighborhood (Arco). Joel,
who also served on GEC’s Board of Directors, was killed in a car accident in
October 2006. We are now working to identify and develop other neighborhood
leaders, including several meetings and calls with prospective individuals.
Brunswick Wood Preserving Superfund Site
This will be a busy year with work finally re-starting at the Brunswick Wood
Preserving Superfund Site.
Cleanup decisions are political under
the Bush regime, and GEC used this fact to obtain funding for the cleanup.
Previous community organizing efforts had resulted in residents requesting
our help when they were flooded by toxic water from the Brunswick Wood
acre lifeless pond of creosote, copper, chromium, arsenic, and
pentachlorophenol is the first area designated for containment.
Skeletal remains of animals that entered the area are common across the
Superfund Site. Community organizing,
meetings, media, and technical assistance resulted in a request for our
Congressman to obtain the Priority Ranking for the BWP site (this tells us
where the site is ranked in the line for funding). The EPA told our
Congressman he could
have the information.
During the Bush regime, Superfund
Site decisions have become secret. EPA would rather give money for the Site
containment than reveal how decisions are being made!
Hercules Plant is the last major toxic site without a completed
investigation. So far, 39 toxic waste sites have been identified at the
plant. Hercules was ordered to investigate the extent of contamination in
1987 but has failed to complete the task.
Other Toxic Sites
The GEC continues working with those who are making a good faith effort to
cleanup toxic sites. Meetings with Georgia Power concerning the Atlanta Gas
Light Site have resulted in a final cleanup plan that is being implemented.
Only 4 of 19 sites on which the GEC has been working have incomplete
investigations, of which 3 are Hercules sites. Our community is
increasingly aware that Hercules is not a good neighbor and fights all
efforts to clean up.
Phone Calls, Knocks on the Door, and Other Unexpected Requests for GEC Help
The GEC has
become a recognized resource for environmental information and help in our
community and requests have grown in 2007. Other than several requests to
remove dead cats from under trailers and for better recycling, we were able
to help those who called. Many calls are from potential buyers for
information about toxic threats near property and homes. Others are helped
finding the right agency to call concerning an environmental problem and
help in filing complaints.
Networking and Partnerships
Joint efforts with our local, state, and national environmental
organizational partners have resulted in the GEC participating in and
signing onto many final comments on emerging issues and proposed laws and
rules. Key issues include improving EPA risk analysis, fecal coliform
standards, Toxic Right to Know Act, coal electric plant permits,
environmental justice, incinerators, and national school construction
Organizing, Strategic Planning, and Leadership Development
Activities - The Glynn Environmental
Coalition (GEC) held 6 membership and Board meetings to do project strategic
planning, evaluation, and receive project progress reports from project
managers, community organizers, and community outreach volunteers. In
addition, further work was conducted when volunteers met 3 times to prepare
the GEC newsletter for mailing. Between 5 and 30 members and volunteers
attended these meetings.
Many GEC projects are interrelated, and even though specific members might
be working on one project it is important to understand how their work
contributes to the larger mission and goal. The GEC membership, Board, and
meetings to prepare the newsletter are the key times that the GEC does
comprehensive planning, evaluation, and shares both successes and
setbacks. These meetings are also important times for developing potential
and Enhancement Assistance Program) of the Environmental Support Center
- The GEC is working through this program to improve our public image and
broaden our fundraising and Board diversity. This is important since the GEC
now represents the majority of citizens in Glynn County. Expected grants of
$50,000 were not awarded and we will be working to resolve this during the
remainder of 2007.
We are encouraging all
GEC members to join in this process.
GEC Focusing on
Activities Rather Than Meetings - We
are working on moving from a meeting to an activity
oriented calendar in 2007. Dates have been set when GEC members can
receive training and participate in the Contaminated Seafood Awareness and
Buy Dry Land Campaigns, and learn how to test our estuarine waters.