Deny or EIS, titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2019-09-12

Sent just now as PDF. You can still send in your comments today.

[Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?]
Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine? PDF


September 12, 2019

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
       Attention: Ms. Holly Ross,  holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil
       1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia  31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
       Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
       Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks USACE:

  • to reject the subject Application from Twin Pines Minerals (TPM), given the inappropriate location which would over the years move ever closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, combined with the numerous omissions from the Application regarding the wide hydrogeologic, water quality, ecologic, and economic ramifications of the proposed mining, and the numerous other mines relevant to the proposal.

If USACE continues to process the Application, WWALS requests USACE:

  • to require a complete hydrogeological assessment and report, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and an economic analysis, with all three covering all the relevant features, mines, and applications in south Georgia and north Florida, including at least those outlined in this letter.
  • to accept comments until at least ninety days after all these documents are submitted to USACE and distributed to the public, preferably on USACE’s website, without requiring site visits to Albany to get them.
  • to hold public hearings in Georgia and Florida for further independent input and review after sufficient time (months or years) for independent third-party review.

The proposed Charlton County, Georgia, TPM mine site is hydraulically upgradient from the Okefenokee Swamp and within close proximity to the boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), with its 600,000 visits per year for boating, birding, and fishing, with more than $60 million annual economic effects including hundreds of jobs supported directly or indirectly, plus hunt clubs surrounding the Swamp. The Swamp provides ecosystem services of great economic values, including storm protection, water quality provisioning, support for nursery and habitat for commercial fishing species; and carbon storage, plus those hunt clubs depend on the Swamp. Any pollution of the Swamp or change in surface or groundwater levels could adversely affect not only ONWR and nearby areas, but also the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) near Waycross, in Ware County, GA, and Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP) in Charlton County, via Fargo in Clinch County. Visitors come from Jacksonville, Florida, Brunswick and Valdosta, Georgia, and from much farther away to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. The Swamp is a treasure to the entire nation and the world.

The stigma of a strip mine next to the swamp could cause people to turn away, taking their dollars with them. Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?

Continue reading

Deadline: today to comment to USACE against titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-09-12

Please send your comments today to the Army Corps and GA-EPD against the proposed titanium mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River.

How to Comment

The nominal comment deadline was Thursday, September 12, 2019, but the Corps will not say it will not read comments sent in later, so you can still send in your comments, and post them on social media, as op-eds, etc.

To comment, or to request a public hearing, you can write to
Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District,
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia, 31707,
or by email to holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil.
In your comments please refer to:
Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554.

For the requested state permit regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, you can send a comment or request for public hearing to
Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

More than 12,000 people have already commented. You can, too.

[Signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, before 2019-08-13 TPM meeting. L-r: Mark Lyons of Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Alice Keyes of One Hundred Miles, Hilda Gilchrist of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), Jim Tatum of OSFR and WWALS, Rena Peck Stricker of Georgia River Network, Mike Roth and Kristin Rubin of OSFR and WWALS, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of OSFR and WWALS

Here’s why.

Julia Widmann, Waterkeeper Alliance, 23 August 2019, Suwannee Riverkeeper Fights to Protect Okefenokee Swamp from Titanium Strip Mine,

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM), an Alabama-based mining company, applied for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers in Southern Georgia. The Suwannee flows south through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, and the St. Marys becomes the border between Georgia and Florida on its way to the Atlantic.

John was quoted in the first news story about the mine, by Emily Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting on July 15, “The most obvious thing that we really need is a real environmental impact statement. All we have so far is, ‘this is what the applicant said.’”

Both Suwannee Riverkeeper and Southern Environmental Law Center have prepared comments which will go in went in today. If your organization wants to sign on, please contact me ASAP, at contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org send in your own comments saying you support the Suwannee Riverkeeper comments.

Or you can just send in your own comments directly. Doesn’t have to be long. A sentence will do.

Much more about the proposed mine is here:
wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Rescheduled: SRWMD Board due to lack of Quorum 2019-09-18

We recommend Dennis J. Price, Practicing Geologist of Hamilton County, Florida, for the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board.

[Dennis Price explains, 13:50:12, 30.57871, -83.05231]
Dennis Price explains, 13:50:12, 30.5787100, -83.0523100
Photo: John S. Quarterman, January 27, 2018, at the Dead River Sink, off the Alapaha River

Received 11:23 AM this morning via email:

SEPTEMBER 10 GOVERNING BOARD MEETING RESCHEDULED

LIVE OAK, FLA., Sept. 10, 2019 — The Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board meeting for September 10, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. at the District Headquarters has been rescheduled. The rescheduled meeting will be held on September 18, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. at the District Headquarters.

[Rescinded and Timed Out]
Rescinded and Timed Out

That notice doesn’t say why, but this does. Cindy Swirko, Gainesville Sun, Posted Sep 8, 2019 at 2:50 PM Updated Sep 9, 2019 at 12:00 AM, Suwannee district to discuss budget without full board, Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Jesup deja vu times two: DuPont, Chemours, Twin Pines, titanium mining, Folkston, Starke

Does this sound familiar? “DuPont planned to separate the mineral sands from the rest and then truck that to its facility in Starke for final processing.”

[Chemours haul from Jesup to Starke]
Chemours plans to haul the extracted ore from a mine near Jesup, in Wayne County, to a Chemours facility near Starke, Fla. The material could be hauled by truck or by CSX Corp., which provides service between the two cities, according to the company’s map. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered, Saporta Report

Multiple organizations also said Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) told them TPM planned to haul ore to Starke to process from TPM’s proposed mine in Charlton County, Georgia, but this was DuPont, in 2014, in Wayne County. And Chemours, starting about 2016, also in Wayne County.

Dupont Jesup Mine

Terry Dickson, Jacksonville.com, 27 August 2014, DuPont withdraws application for permit to mine more than 2,200 acres in Wayne County, Continue reading

Charlton County, GA, Workshop, Comprehensive Plan 2019-08-27

There was a surprising amount of consensus on things that needed to be added to the Charlton County Comprehensive Plan, at the first Workshop conducted by Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC).

[Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.]
Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.

I’ll leave it to SGRC’s Elizabeth Backe to summarize that meeting. For now, suffice it to say that I think I did get them to mention the Suwannee River in many places where it previously was not, and I think also water trails and Suwannee Riverkeeper.

The next Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop will be:

When: 2-4 PM, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Where: Charlton County Administrative Offices, 68 Kingsland Dr. Suite B, Folkston, GA.

What: “We will be discussing the Policies and Community Work Program and Report of Accomplishments sections (5 and 6) of the Comprehensive Plan. If you are not able to attend this workshop, please feel free to send me any suggestions or comments by email.” –Elizabeth Backe, ebacke@sgrc.us

At the first Workshop, Ms. Backe used an initial discussion on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to motivate the detailed walk-through of part of the planning document. Continue reading

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) Reported to ADEM by NPDES Permitted Facilities 2019-09-05

For years, Alabama has been posting sewage spill reports online, like Florida and, since last December, Georgia. And Alabama has joined Florida in publishing a map of recent spills.

[Al-adem-sso-map]
Al-adem-sso-map
Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) Reported to ADEM by NPDES Permitted Facilities

Thanks to Lewis Hays, Watershed Compliance Program, GA-EPD, for the tip.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Pilgrim’s Pride and Springsheds, SRWMD Board Packet 2019-09-10

Nestlé is still not on the agenda for the SRWMD Board Meeting, 3PM, Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at SRWMD HQ in Live Oak, FL. Don’t let that stop you from asking SRWMD not to let Nestlé withdraw more water from Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, and maybe they should revisit Nestlé’s permit to withdraw at Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River.

[Location Map, Pilgrim's Pride Project, 2-121-219095-6]
Location Map, Pilgrim’s Pride Project, 2-121-219095-6

But a water permit involving new wells for Pilgrim’s Pride is on the agenda. Also on the agenda are as are four permits for agricultural withdrawal, two in the Ichetucknee Springshed. Here are the relevant maps from the SRWMD Board Packet. Continue reading

PCS Phosphate Mine dragline access permit application SAJ-1984-04652 2019-10-15

It may be useful to keep tabs on last year’s USACE expansion application of the PCS (now Nutrien) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL.

Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SAJ-1984-04652 (MOD-JPF), Published Oct. 15, 2018, Expiration date: 11/14/2018

[Location Map]
Location Map
PDF

Here are the rest of the maps from that document. Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Corn Moon Paddle 2019-09-14

Join us for a Full Moon paddle and star gazing at Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This is a leisurely paddle around the refuge that lies in the Grand Bay–Banks Lake ecosystem. This will also be nine days before the Fall Equinox, so day and night will be almost as equal as they ever get.

When: Gather 6:30 PM, launch 7:00 PM, Saturday, September 14, 2019

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635.

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit.
Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.
And a light! It’s going to be dark.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

[Almost]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, sun setting at Banks Lake, July 16, 2019.

Continue reading