community is better off for Glynn County and 120 families having received
$50 million in damages from Honeywell, the owners of the LCP Chemicals
Superfund Site. It took a long time for our community to change from the
message that “our environment was expendable for jobs” to “our community
will not be your dumping ground for toxic waste,” and the suit sent this
message clearly. The GEC likes to think we have been a driving force in
making this change.
thought we had something to do with the change.
As the suit moved
forward, the GEC increasingly felt like the dog outside the Courthouse door
that got kicked whenever something went in the favor of the plaintiffs. This
was very evident when the Seafood
Consumption Advisory Brochure we developed was entered in as evidence.
The GEC produced the Seafood Consumption Advisory with an EPA Environmental
Justice (EJ) Grant, in cooperation with the Coastal Resources Division,
local and state Health Department, Georgia Environmental Protection
Division, and solicited input from toxicologists. Still, the GEC caught the
blame for being audacious enough to produce an advisory about the most
significant health threat to our community.
The day the Seafood
Consumption Advisory Brochure was entered into the Court, the GEC learned
about it when a call was received requesting documentation about how we
developed the brochure and proof that we did, in fact, have it reviewed and
approved by the Georgia toxicologist that issued seafood advisories. The
request expanded to detailed documentation of the process we used to develop
Just three days
after the Seafood Consumption Advisory Brochure was entered into Court, the
GEC received a call from the EPA requesting a Quality Assurance Project
Plan, commonly shortened to QAPP. The GEC had produced a QAPP before the
project started, as was required under the grant. But this was just three
days before the official end of the project, and it was no ordinary QAPP the
EPA was requesting. The EPA wanted a QAPP like a University would do for a
major health study, or the 5000 page variety. The power of major
corporations to pull political strings and manipulate federal agencies was
Signs of political
pressure were evident from EPA documents we later obtained through the
Freedom of Information Act. When our Seafood Advisory was submitted to the
EPA for comment, none came back. We only learned about their displeasure,
or horror, to be more accurate, when we later obtained internal EPA
communications. EPA Superfund staff were adamant that the GEC should not be
allowed to do the Seafood Advisory. Why would the EPA Superfund staff not
want us to warn our community about the seafood contaminated by these
Superfund Sites? After all, it was another EPA branch that saw our seafood
contamination as a significant environmental justice issue. Of the 30
proposals submitted, the EPA EJ staff selected the GEC's as one of only
three to be implemented.
Being an advocate
for a clean environment and healthy economy for citizens of coastal Georgia
should not be controversial or politicized. Unfortunately, in the current
political climate, corporations can and do use their powerful political
connections to smite those working for a clean and healthy place to live and
raise their families.
The GEC has
experienced the power of corporations being wielded against us through State
and Federal Agencies in the past, and undoubtedly it will happen in the
future if we continue to work in the interest of our community, our
children, and generations to come.