Tag Archives: permit

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

Vickers Branch and Hahira LAS 2020-05-11

How is the mysterious Vickers Branch south of Hahira related to the Hahira Land Application Site? What is that creek the rest of that LAS is on? And what does all this have to do with Lowndes County’s new IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN? Why do we care about all this for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail?

About six weeks ago, the bridge on Old US 41 North just south of Hahira broke and Lowndes County fixed it. Revealing that nobody knew a name for it. Except Phillip Williams, who says, “Some maps show it as Vickers Branch. The Vickers family were the ones who owned most of the land in the area back in the 1800s.”

[Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS]
Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS
in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

The Vickers Branch Bridge marker south of Hahira looks slightly too far south, but it’s where google street view and aerials show the bridge. It seems that the USGS stream trace I used in this map is not quite right.

[Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge]
Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge

Upstream of that Vickers Branch US 41 bridge, several branches or runs that drain quite an area. I have named them after Continue reading

Valdosta fined for spills in GA-EPD Enforcement Order 2020-04-27

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Update 2020-05-03: The entire GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13.

GA-EPD is fining Valdosta this time, for the first time ever. The persistent rumors from multiple sources were right about that.

Before anyone complains that the taxpayers will have to pay that fine, remember Valdosta has insurance, and so does the contractor that left the Remer Lane Pump Station offline back in December 2019, causing Valdosta’s biggest single spill since 2015.

[Spill and Remer Lane Pump Station]
Spill and Remer Lane Pump Station

And if the fine does get passed through to the taxpayers, maybe that will be incentive for the people of Valdosta to demand their city government stop spilling, by at least doing all the things this new Enforcement Order requires.

There is a comment period that opened Monday, April 27, 2020 through Wednesday, May 27, 2020. That’s right, Monday, and we only found out about it today, Friday Thursday. Thanks to GA-EPD for alerting us to this notice. The City of Valdosta doesn’t seem to have published anything about it.

If the actual Enforcement Order is online somewhere, can somebody please point me to it. Without that, I don’t know how anyone can comment coherently. I have filed an open records request with GA-EPD to get it.

[Notice]
Notice

This is apparently the Order that the U.S. EPA told us back on January 8, 2020, to expect “in weeks, not months.” Well, ten weeks or 2.5 months is better than never.

Let’s look at the “Requirements of Order“: Continue reading

Nestle permit deleted from SRWMD agenda 2020-03-10

How does Nestlé appeal a decision that hasn’t been made yet? I guess we’re about to find out.

Meanwhile, I plan to go speak anyway, 9AM Tuesday 10 March 2020 at SRWMD HQ in Live Oak. How about you?

For inspiration, see the WWALS videos of the 32 speakers from December.

[Nestle denial pulled from agenda]
Nestle denial pulled from agenda
PDF

Received via email about 4PM today, Monday, March 9, 2020:

March 9, 2020

NOTICE OF AMENDMENT OF AGENDA

NOTICE IS GIVEN that Agenda Item No. 20—BCS Page 61—Authorization to Deny Water Use Permit Renewal Application 2-041-218202-3, Seven Springs Water Company Project, Gilchrist County has been pulled from the agenda.

The Applicant has filed a petition for administrative hearing on this denial and the District has forwarded the petition to the Division of Administrative Hearings (“DOAH”) for consideration by an Administrative Law Judge as required by law.

The District does not have jurisdiction to act on the petition until the administrative process is completed before DOAH and the Administrative Law Judge issues a recommended order. Upon issuance of the recommended order, the Governing Board will re-agenda this item for final agency action.

Suwannee River Water Management District |
www.MySuwanneeRiver.com

A few minutes before, the revised agenda arrived via email. Continue reading

Citizens about Nestle at SRWMD 2019-12-10

Update 2020-03-09: Nestlé pulled from the agenda.

See in these videos 32 people speak to the SRWMD board, against Nestlé’s Ginnie Springs permit, and not a single one for, after a rally outside, in December 2019. Plus 384,000 signatures delivered by Allison Guy of SumofUs.

That permit is on the agenda for tomorrow morning, 9AM, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at SRWMD HQ in Live Oak.

SRWMD staff recommend denial, but they did back in 2003 when the Madison Blue Spring permit was originally granted, and the SRWMD Board approved it anyway.

So come speak your mind. Come early: SRWMD is expecting so many people they’re setting up expansion space inside, and their parking will fill up quickly. Facebook event.


[No to Nestle!]
No to Nestle!

The Suwannee River Water Management District Board may never have heard from a mermaid before. Many other speakers were new to this venue, such as 14-year-old Isaac Augspurg.

Others were old hands, such as Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) president Mike Roth, past president Pam Smith, Historian Jim Tatum, and of course Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.

Several WWALS members spoke, including several of the above, and Chris Mericle, Garth Brewster, and Maxine Connor.


      Valdosta spill; No Nestle permit --Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman
Valdosta spill; No Nestle permit –Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

The only speaker to cause an audible gasp from the audience was me, when I revealed that Valdosta had spilled again, 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage, upstream from Madison Blue Spring. Much more about that on the WWALS website.

I hand-delivered to SRWMD board and staff copies of the WWALS letter against Nestlé permits.

Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker, followed by 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

Baker County, FL, resident responds to Charlton County, GA, about mine proposed near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-01-14

Mark Lyons, Charlton County Herald, January 14, 2020, Letter to the Editor: Response to City of Folkston, Development Authority,

Dear Editor,

I read with curiosity the Letter to the Editor from the City Council of Folkston and the Charlton County Development Commission giving their endorsement and support of the Twin Pines mining proposal. That letter raises so many questions. Where did these two boards obtain their scientific data that the mining would not affect the swamp and the environment? Much of the information offered in their letter appears to have been spoon fed to them directly from Twin Pines. There was no mention of where they obtained the scientific data that rendered such a strong endorsement that the mining will not harm the swamp or the environment. The letter did not mention any consultants or scientist who were hired by either of these two entities to inform them there wouldn’t be any environmental damage from the mining. How many scientist sit on the city board or the development council? Did the boards hire or consult any scientist at all? What was the name of the consulting firm either the city or the development board hired to supply them the scientific data that the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Where did the boards get their scientific data that gave them proof the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Please, I would ask you to share such valuable data with the public.

Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS of Chemours mines in north Florida, looking west across Bradford County
Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS of Chemours mines in north Florida, looking west across Bradford County, on Southwings flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

How can anyone determine and say the mining will not affect the environment when Continue reading

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

U.S. EPA still says mine would have substantial and unacceptable impact –Suwannee Riverkeeper 2019-12-31

In the Charlton County Herald, December 31, 2019:


Dear Editor,

The burden of proof is still on the miners to show their mine would not damage the Swamp or the Rivers, and they have not met that burden.

U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.”

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Anonymous drone aerial of heavy equipment on the mining site 2019-11-23.
River Styx is in the background, Okefenokee Swamp is on the horizon.
St. Marys River flows out top left horizon. Suwannee River flows out far side of Swamp.

That’s about “the permit application submitted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC” for a titanium strip mine. “The proposed 2,414-acre mine area lies in proximity to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and the potential secondary effects of the mine on the NWR have not been demonstrated by the permit applicant.”

This is the second letter EPA has sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the mining application is deficient. We obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The entire letter is here: https://wwals.net/?p=50931.

You, too, can still comment to the USACE, and all comments they receive before the Corps announces a decision can be used in any potential lawsuits. The addresses are: Continue reading

Southern Cross Dairy (Suwannee Farms) liquidation and permit renewal 2019-11-25

Today I got an automated notice from FDEP about a wastewater permit for Suwannee Farms, and a WWALS member sent a picture of this auction sign saying “HUGE PRODUCE & ROW CROP FARM COMPLETE LIQUIDATION” next to a bigger sign saying Suwannee Farms. This is in Suwannee County near the Suwannee River.

[HUGE PRODUCE & ROW CROP FARM COMPLETE LIQUIDATION]

I called DeMottAuction.com and asked if the land was also for sale. They said they weren’t selling the land, only equipment. Which of course doesn’t mean that the land is not for sale; only that Continue reading