Tag Archives: EPA

Okefenokee Swamp on GWC Dirty Dozen because Titanium Mine 2019-11-14

Announced yesterday to press across Georgia and beyond, the titanium mine near Georgia and Florida’s Okefenokee Swamp proposed by Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama made the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen (see also PDF).

You can still file a comment with the Army Corps and GA-EPD asking them to reject the mine or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement. Convenience for miners is no excuse to risk the fishing, boating, and birding in the swamp and hunting and forestry nearby.

[Closeup]
Closeup of TPM equipment on mine site from GA 94 westbound.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, November 14, 2019

2019’s
Worst Offenses Against
GEORGIA’S WATER
OKEFENOKEE SWAMP, ST. MARYS AND SUWANNEE RIVERS

Proposed 2,400-Acre Titanium Mine Threatens Signature Landscape of Georgia

INTRODUCTION:

Twenty years ago when chemical giant DuPont proposed mining titanium dioxide ore near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposition to the plan was so strong— Continue reading

Nutrients and Cyanotoxins, FDEP Triennial Review Workshop, Tallahassee 2019-11-04

Water quality testing for nutrients and cyanotoxins were big topics at yesterday’s Public Workshop in Tallahassee. Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman was there, but had to leave at noon. So John S. Quarterman ended up speaking as Suwannee Riverkeeper and on behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, in Florida’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards.

[Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman]
Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman

The FDEP presenters made it pretty clear they preferred putting up warning signs based on clorophyl a measurements and whenever cyanobacteria blooms are sighted, as they ask DOH to do now, to waiting for lab tests to come back to confirm, as EPA Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida passes resolution against titanium mine application near Okefenokee Swamp

Waterkeepers Florida asks the Army Corps to require Twin Pines Minerals to supply all the information missing from its application for a titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to hold Public Hearings, including in Florida, and “to answer how the Corps has or will determine that the Applicant’s proposed mine would not adversely affect the Okefenokee Swamp, the St. Marys River, the Suwannee River, the Floridan Aquifer, or the State of Florida.”

You can also still comment to the Army Corps.

[TPM Equipment closeup, Wayne Morgan]
TPM Equipment closeup Photo: Wayne Morgan for Suwannee Riverkeeper on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Continue reading

Twin Pines: no keys to the Okefenokee –Christian Hunt 2019-10-23

Excellent letter in the Charlton County Herald, October 23, 2019. You can send your own letter to the editor or comment to the Army Corps or GA-EPD.

Twin Pines should not be given the keys to the Okefenokee

Dear Editor,

Since announcing plans to strip mine along the Trail Ridge adjacent to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Twin Pines Minerals has held multiple hearings and meetings with political figures and the people of Charlton County to make their case and ostensibly calm fears about the miners environmental impact. Unfortunately, the company continues to display a lack of transparency and misrepresent both the nature and scale of the proposed mine, as well the costs of mining next to the swamp.

To truly understand what is at stake, here are the facts.

[Hunt]

First, Twin Pines has repeatedly claimed that operations will only Continue reading

GA-EPD cites Suwannee Riverkeeper and US EPA against TPM titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-09-12

GA-EPD told USACE the mining application is incomplete, asked for comments to be reopened, and cited Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network:

“Understanding that groundwater hydrologic effects associated with the Twin Pines project have been a central concern expressed by federal resource/regulatory agencies, NGOs (e.g. the Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network), and the public at large, we respectfully submit that the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete since it lacks full information and findings regarding hydrogeologic factors on site and post-project effects to hydrogeology/groundwater. We feel that it is inappropriate and premature to close the project comment window when such notable elements of the environmental documentation for this project have not yet been made available. documentation which we at GaEPD judge to be important to our review of this project.”

[the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete]
the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete

This was revealed by USACE in a Public Notice of September 17, 2019. So far, this is the only update posted by the Corps since it closed comments on September 12, 2019.

It also includes comments by U.S. EPA, also saying the application is incomplete, and also cited by GA-EPD. EPA cites cumulative effects and notes numerous lacking documents and studies. EPA concludes:

“Due to the potential for the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine to adversely affect the hydrology of the Okefenokee NWR, the EPA believes that there is the potential for this project as proposed to cause adverse effects to water quality and the life stages of aquatic life or other wildlife dependent on aquatic systems. The EPA finds that this project, as proposed, may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance, as covered in Part IV. paragraph 3(a) of the August 1992 Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA and the Department of the Army regarding CWA Section 404(q).”

Apparently USACE is at least listening to the public and the public and NGOs such as Suwannee Riverkeeper.

You can still send in comments. The Corps won’t say they will read them, but they explicitly won’t say they won’t read them, so keep sending them in, and publish them on social media, as op-eds, etc. 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

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

A resolution supporting the TPM mine is on the agenda for the Charlton County Commission meeting, 6PM this Thursday, August 15, 2019, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA. Especially if you live in Charlston County, please go to that meeting and object. Even better, contact your County Commissioner before the meeting.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13]
Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13

Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, yesterday, August 13, 2019:

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) promises jobs, taxes, and low impact to mine for titanium between Moniac and St. George, on property that extends up to the Okefenokee NWR.

People from Baker, Bradford, and Union Counties, Florida, say they don’t know any locals who have the mine jobs promised by Chemours. The TPM application for Charlton County promises Continue reading

Consent Order, FDEP v. Chemours involving Twin Pines Minerals 2019-02-07

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is cited in a consent order on Chemours mines, for failure to collect data, spilling waste through silt fences and not cleaning it up, and being out of compliance on numerous counts, including radium and iron, in the Suwannee, St. Johns, and St. Mary’s River basins in Florida.

[Four times spelled out]
Four times spelled out, on four different pages

This is the same TPM that has applied to mine titanium in Charlton County, Georgia, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers.

[TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines]
TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines

You can read the Consent Order yourself: Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

Continue reading