Tag Archives: quality

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.

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Mining Ruined Family Field –Charles F. Arwood, 2019-10-23

Another letter in the Charlton County Herald, October 23, 2019, same issue as the letter posted previously. You can send your own letter to the editor or comment to the Army Corps or GA-EPD.

[Lawtey, FL, Highland Mine, Chemours]
Lawtey, FL, Highland Mine, Chemours, google earth.

Mining Ruined Family Field

Dear Editor,

Let me start out by saying that I have not been a part of any protests that have been going on. I don’t think anyone can foresee if the proposed strip mining will actually harm the swamp. We probably won’t know until many years have passed. Only time will truly tell.

However, I can say that the strip mining by Dupont in Bradford County did do a lot of harm to my Grandfather’s strawberry farm! My Grandfather owned a farm that joined Dupont’s Continue reading

Chesser Island Road Landfill 2019-10-05

Seen from the east edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, Waste Management’s Chesser Island Road Landfill.

[Closeup, Landfill, Chesser Island Road, 30.692743, -82.076377]
Closeup, Landfill, Chesser Island Road, 30.6927430, -82.0763770
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

This landfill is off of GA 23 south of Folkston, GA, in Charlton County, and is well known for accepting 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

Floridan Aquifer withdrawals affect the Okefenokee Swamp, so how could TPM’s withdrawals not? 1995-04-11

Water withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer affect water levels and quality in the Okefenokee Swamp, a pair of researchers concluded 24 years before Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama proposed to withdraw 2.4 4.32 million gallons per day from the Aquifer for a titanium mine within a few miles of the Swamp:

Abstract. A rapid response is observed between water level fluctuations in the Okefenokee Swamp and water levels in the underlying Floridan Aquifer. A lag of approximately one month is common, and a hydraulic diffusivity of 3.83 x 10-3 m2 s-1 best matches the calculated aquifer response to the swamp water level perturbations. The magnitude of leakage between the swamp and the aquifer is uncertain because of a lack of knowledge about the specific storage coefficient in the aquitard separating the swamp and the aquifer which has not been explicitly measured. An intermediate value of specific storage within the likely range of values results in a down- ward vertical flow of 1.2 meters of water per year. This induced recharge can significantly alter the natural water balance within the swamp. Such a large loss of water from the swamp may be responsible for observed pH and water level changes, and increased beavy metal accumulations in aquatic organisms in the swamp.

We cited that study[5] on page 4 of the Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to USACE about TPM, just after noting Twin Pines application to withdraw 4.32 million gallons per day (mgd) of Floridan Aquifer water much closer to the Swamp than any other permitted withdrawal. TPM’s own hydrology study in that withdrawal application shows a cone of depression in the Floridan Aquifer extending under the Swamp:

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

How could that not affect Swamp water levels and content?

As pointed out to the Corps by Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP), any change to the water level in the Swamp would Continue reading

Titanium mine expansion on SRWMD land SE of Starke, Bradford County, Florida 2019-10-17

What is the point of SRWMD buying land if it’s going to let it be strip-mined for titanium?

[Bradford County Property Appraiser]
Bradford County Property Appraiser

Yet that’s what the Bradford County, FL, Commission is considering approving this Thursday evening for Chemours, expanding one of the same mines Chemours and Twin Pines Minerals LLC are under a Florida Consent Order for numerous violations.

We hear that this Chemours expansion application for its Trailridge Mine southeast of Starke includes items like a Master Mining Plan and some of what they intend to do with wastewater, which the Twin Pines Minerals application does not for a similar mine near the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, GA, farther north up Trail Ridge, that ancient beach full of stuff miners want to exploit.

[Twin Pines site (north) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south)]
Twin Pines site (north in center top) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south).
See also proposed HPS II phosphate mine site left of center, and existing Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL upper left.
Note Jacksonville on the right in the east and Gainesville bottom center.
The Santa Fe River starts near the subject property, and flows west (left) to the Suwannee River.

We don’t know, because the application is not on Bradford County’s website.

When: 6:30 PM, Thursday, October 17, 2019

Where: BRADFORD COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 945 North Temple Avenue, Starke, Florida 32091

Event: BEF facebook event
WWALS facebook event

Here is the agenda item:

  1. PUBLIC HEARING – Randy Andrews, Zoning Director.
    Chemours Company FC, LLC – Thomas O. Ingram of Sodi & Ingram, PLLC and Daniel LeJeune of Kleinfelder, as acting agents for The Chemours Company FC LLC., and Connie Henderson, Representative for The Chemours FC, LLC.
    • Consider approval of a Special Use application — SU 19-02, for a Special Permit for mining submitted by The Chemours Company FC, LLC on lands owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District.

SRWMD owns 2,213.60 acres from just south of Chemours down to a sort of triangle-shaped 107.49-acre bit north of the Keystone Heights Airport.

[Google map]
WWALS Google map with SRWMD property roughly sketched.

That Airport is also known as Keystone Airpark, 42J, 29.8447500,-82.0475278. The purple-shaded left part of this WWALS google map is the Santa Fe River Basin, and this Chemours mine expansion appears to be entirely within it.

If you want to speak, here are the rules:

  1. Public Comments:
    • Three (3) minutes per speaker;
    • Complete and turn in a public comment card to speak before the start of meeting; (COMMENT CARDS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE MEETING BEGINS)
    • State your name and address into the record before speaking;
    • Do not speak from the audience;
    • Address your questions to the Board, not county staff;
    • Refrain from demands for an immediate board response;
    • No boisterous behavior; and
    • No personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks.

WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper know about this Chemours mine expansion application due to a report by Jim Tatum of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR). OSFR got their information from Bradford Environmental Forum (BEF). Paul Still of BEF says BEF plans to put a copy of the application on the BEF website as soon as they can sort out the logistics of getting a multi-megabyte file uploaded on slow rural broadband links.

This aerial I took on October 5th looks south across the Chemours Maxville Mine (the second one counting south from the state line), with Kingsley Lake in the distance.

[Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight 2019-10-05, pilot Allen Nodorft, Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337

Those six settling ponds are on the divide between the St. Johns River Basin on the left and the Santa Fe River Basin on the right. So the right-hand side of the picture is in the Santa Fe River Basin. The SRWMD mine of the Bradford County application is in the haze near the horizon.

Do we want more of the Santa Fe River Basin to look like this?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Two thirds of SRWMD Board half there 2019-09-18

It was surprisingly interactive meeting, with the Board members repeatedly questioning staff about multiple projects, sometimes taking up points raised from the audience. One Board Member even stopped a project. Yet half the rump board was not visible, being on the telephone, and the Budget Public Hearing may or may not have been legal.

Nestlé Water Withdrawal Permits

At the rescheduled September SRWMD Board meeting, OSFR President Mike Roth questioned the validity of the permitting process for Nestlé’s proposed 1.2 million gallon per day water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, since the actual application is from Seven Springs, which proposes to sell the water to Nestlé, which is not a use authorized by Florida Statutes.

[OSFR President]
OSFR President

I seconded that, and added that the SRWMD Board should revisit Nestlé’s permit for water withdrawal at Madison Blue Springs on the Withlacoochee River, since Florida Statutes to authorize them to do that.

You can comment to SRWMD about Nestlé’s permits.

Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR, of Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman
Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR, of Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

Afterwards, SRWMD’s Tom Mirti told me the $70,000 contract with SRWMD for Nestlé to support springs water quality monitoring is required by the Nestlé permit for Madison Blue Spring, even though it has to be negotiated separately. Apparently yet another open records request is needed.

Invisible and Missing Board Members

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Full page ad by titanium miners in Charlton County Herald 2019-09-25

Update 2019-11-07: This blog post published as an op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, October 9, 2019, as Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee.

[Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee --Suwannee Riverkeeper]
Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee –Suwannee Riverkeeper

It’s the miners who are proposing to risk the Okefenokee Swamp for their private profit, so it’s their job to provide proof, despite what the Twin Pines full page ad in the Charlton County Herald says. Alex Kearns has already made this point for St. Marys Earthkeepers in a letter to the editor. You can comment on the newspaper’s website on that one, or you can send one, too, to: editor@charltonherald.com.

[CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001]
CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001
PDF

Yet in our Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to the Corps, we have provided quite a few studies that indicate the risk, including a Florida Consent Order against the same company for similar mines in Florida.

Where are these studies Twin Pines touts in the ad? They were not in Twin Pines’ mining application, as we and many others, including U.S. EPA and GA-EPD have pointed out. When will these miners’ studies be published?

The one Twin Pines hydrogeological study I have been able to find is in a different application that this miners’ ad doesn’t mention: for groundwater withdrawal and use. That study shows the 4.32 million gallons per day the miners’ want (more than twice all the current permitted water withdrawals in Charlton County) would lower the level of the Floridan Aquifer under the Swamp.

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

At the August 13, 2019 miners’ meeting in Folkston, GA, Steve Ingle claimed the mine would not affect the Floridan Aquifer, and the miners’ hydrologist Mark Tanner claimed there would be no cone of depression under the Swamp, both on video. This was two weeks after the same company had filed its withdrawal application with a hydrology report that clearly depicts a cone of depression extending under the Swamp. A report authored by the same two hydrologists who were at the August 13th meeting: Robert M. Holt and J. Mark Tanner.

The same miners’ hydrologists also repeatedly refused to guarantee there would be no effect on the Suwannee River, despite the ad’s claims of “100% certainty.”

Pretty much every other point in that ad is similarly easily rebuttable.

It’s curious they didn’t mention their biggest selling point: Continue reading

Trash in wetlands at Flying J, Exit 2, I-75 2019-08-23

I must compliment Lowndes County Code Enforcement, the Flying J, Dynamis, and Deep South Sanitation, about this cleanup at the Flying J, Exit 2, I-75, Lake Park, Georgia, about a mile from the GA-FL line.

[Trash in gap]
Trash in gap

On August 23, 2019, I sent this picture and the location to Lowndes County Code Enforcement:

[Still more trash]
Still more trash

Code Enforcement Director Mindy Bates responded within the hour: 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