Category Archives: Quality

EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31

The EPA took weeks to write to WWALS to confirm less than what it said in the January 8, 2019 meeting in Madison, Florida:


      220 years to fix? Need better oversight --Brannan, EPA
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, still from WWALS Video, Madison, Florida, of Carol L. Kemker, Director, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, and others.

In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has authority for establishing procedures for how permitted utilities are to respond during a major spill event. The EPA has delegated permitting authority to the state under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (NPDES). However, the EPA does maintain a state oversight role. After the sewage spill into the Withlacoochee, the EPA reached out to EPD to ensure the spill’s cause was properly addressed and notification procedures were followed. The EPA continues to work with EPD to reduce the possibility of future spills from Valdosta into the Withlacoochee River.

No detail was included in the EPA Region 4 letter to WWALS as to how the spill’s cause was to be addressed, or why notification procedures were the only other topic worth mentioning. EPA Region 4’s response says nothing about water quality testing, tracking procedures, alternative water supply, water well testing cost reimbursement, wildlife on land and water, underground plumes of contamination, or an educational campaign; all topics listed in the WWALS letter to which EPA is replying.

Apparently it took a week for the email I forwarded to EPA Region 4 on December 17th to get there on December 23, 2019. Then it took another month for EPA to send a paper reply letter in fancy packaging.

EPA also recommended: Continue reading

Reject or EIS: Twin Pines Minerals mine near Okefenokee –U.S. Rep. Al Lawson 2020-02-13

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr, Twitter, 2PM, 14 February 2020, @RepAlLawsonJr,

I sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s plan to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. These actions could have detrimental effects on the area’s biodiversity and natural resources.

[U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE]
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE


AL LAWSON
5TH DISTRICT, FLORIDA
ASSISTANT MAJORITY WHIP
COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL SERVICES
COMMITTEE ON
AGRICULTURE

Congress of the United States
 
House of Representatives
 
Washington, DC 20515-0905

February 13, 2020

Col. Daniel Hibner
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District
100 W. Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401

Dear Hearing Officer:

I am writing to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s application for a clean water (CWA) permit to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Osceola National Forest, and Osceola Wildlife Management Area. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carefully consider the significant environmental, social, and economic costs that could occur if the permit is granted. It is crucial that the Corps require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Furthermore, the Corps should reject the permit application if it appears the mine will harm the environment.

Trail Ridge and Okefenokee NWR

If approved, the project would destroy portions of Trail Ridge, which acts as Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals mining equipment still on site near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-02-13

The miners didn’t go away from their site near the Okefenokee Swamp after they withdrew their permit application, so expect another application soon.

[Equipment zoom]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Equipment zoom 2020-02-12.

The miners said they would be back, in Mining company withdraws permit application for project near Okefenokee by Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 9, 2020,

“In an effort to be even more conservative in our approach than we were in our initial application, we have agreed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the size of the permit area and resubmit new documentation for Continue reading

Madison Co., FL Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-02-11

Update 2020-02-15: EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31.

This unusually-worded Florida bacterial advisory for the Withlacoochee River probably has nothing to do with yesterday’s Valdosta 200 gallon sewage spill into two-mile branch:

[02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001]
02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001
PDF

The unusual wording is that the advisory gives no hint of the source of the contamination:

Jasper, FL — The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties today issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.

Until further information is known regarding possible bacterial contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection are conducting water sampling.

We got the advisory at 4:42 PM today. At 5:10 PM Nathan Dean, reporter for WCTV, called to ask why the advisory. The best I could do was to say that tiny amount of Valdosta sewage could not possibly have made its way to Florida by today, and probably never would, because it was so small it would get diluted long before that.

At 7:48 PM I got forwarded through two intermediaries an explanation from SRWMD’s Darlene Velez that she orginally sent at 5:20 PM. She said Madison County Health Department had decided to do weekly sampling. I quote in part: Continue reading

200 gallons sewage into Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta 2020-02-10

Received via email a few minutes ago, confirming what our WWALS agents saw earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2020
Release #02-10-20

Grease Blockage Leads to Manhole Overflow

On February 10, 2020, The City of Valdosta Utilities Department staff responded to a call concerning a manhole discharge at the 2400 block of Patterson Street.

[Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA]
Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA, on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The cause of the spill was determined to be a grease blockage resulting in approximately 200 gallons of sewage to enter a storm drain that discharges into Two Mile Branch. The blockage was caused by a buildup of fats, oils, and grease that accumulated inside the sewer line.

City staff were able to capture and recover a large portion of the discharge before it entered state waters. The blockage was cleared and the site and its discharge point were cleaned and disinfected.

Although the level of potential contamination to the area is minimal, the public is advised Continue reading

Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

The two days John Moran spent writing his talk paid off, along with the years of photographing what was and what is left of the waters of Florida. If you watch none of the rest of these videos from the Florida Bill of Rights for Nature, the three with John Moran’s talk are well worth your time.

John Moran

Below are links to each WWALS video. I didn’t video everything; mostly a few speakers whom I had told in advance.

Doug Shields explains how he got the Pittsburgh, PA, City Council to be the first in the U.S. to ban fracking, and how it spread from there, and what that has to do with Rights of Nature.

Chuck O’Neal of WEBOR explains the three ways you can get a Bill of Rights for Nature passed in a Florida County, and how he did it in, Orange County

As already posted, David Moritz explains the one that may have started it all in Florida, Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SaFEBoR).

You should be able to follow the demonstration of Tools not working for Florida’s environment even if you don’t know FDEP from a WMD, or if you’re familiar with a different state or country. The problems are the same everywhere: laws, agencies, and rules rigged against nature. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights for Nature, in each county, state, and country. Continue reading

Florida Rights of Nature Convention 2020-02-08

Update 2020-02-09: Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

What Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) started only nine months ago has blossomed into a dozen county or river Rights of Nature movements across the State of Florida.

David Moritz, SAFEBOR

Here is WWALS video of what David Moritz said about SAFEBOR. More will follow, especially of what John Moran said. Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals withdraws application to strip-mine near Okefenokee 2020-02-07

They could resubmit at any time. But for now, the Alabama mining company that is already under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for four mines in north Florida, Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) has withdrawn its application to mine in Georgia near the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for http://wwals.net/blog/?p=51549&preview=trueWWALS, Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100, on Southwings flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 7, 2020, BREAKING: Mining company withdraws permit application for project near Okefenokee,

Twin Pines Minerals, the Alabama-based company that hopes to mine acres of land near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, has withdrawn its permit application, said Billy E. Birdwell, spokesman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Savannah district.

Continue reading

Protect the Right to Farm Act. Ask Your Legislators to Vote NO on HB 545

Farmers and other rural property owners have the right to use and enjoy their private properties. But a bill supported by corporate agricultural lobbyists will change the long standing Right to Farm Act. This 30 year old law has protected family farmers and property rights of Georgians for decades.

Oppose HB 545 to protect the Right to Farm Act

HB 545 restricts landowners’ rights to protect their property values and quality of life if a new industrial agricultural operation moves in and causes a nuisance. HB 545 weakens Georgia’s long-standing Right to Farm Act.

HB 545 says that no agricultural facility may be sued for nuisance if it has been “in operation” for at least 2 years—even if the nuisance-causing activity hasn’t started or impacted neighbors yet. And even if the neighbors were there first! This turns 35 years of Right to Farm law on its head.

EXAMPLE Continue reading

Georgia Capitol Conservation Day 2020-02-26

Come to Atlanta to talk about Georgia conservation issues, at Capitol Conservation Day, organized by the Georgia Water Coalition.

When: 7:30 AM to noon, Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Where: Central Presbyterian Church, 201 Washington St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
then across the street to the Georgia State Capitol.

Event: facebook

[Many people]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Many people at CCD 2019.

The day will start with breakfast at 7:30am [at Central Presbytrian Church] followed by updates on timely water-related legislation and advocacy training. Attendees will then go to the Capitol to meet with their legislators either at the ropes or by making an appointment with their legislator. Registration for this inspiring is now open and limited to the first 200 people. Click here to register.

You can also become a sponsor for Continue reading