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:

[Highland Mine]
Highland Mine

See also the Warning Letter of a year before. That warning seems severe and specific enough that one might have thought Chemours and Twin Pines would have fixed the problems, but apparently enough problems were left a year later fpr FDEP to issue a Consent Order. For example:

Deficiency: Common findings observed during inspection of mining facilities:

  • No sludge management plan developed for humate (Maxville and North Maxville).
  • Site plan does not identify/provide maintenance and inspection procedures for BMP. other than ponds.
  • Site plan has not been updated since it was implemented 2013.
  • Site plan does not provide details on evaluating accumulated water in secondary containment structures prior to discharging.
  • Total Radium 226/Radium 228 at outfall D002 was not reported the 1* Qtr 2017 as required by permit (Maxville).
  • Toxicity results were not provided at outfall D002 for 3“ Qtr (Maxville).
  • The lime treatment ponds associated with the long-term ponds and caustic pond are not included on the daily shift check sheet at Maxville.
  • No written documentation of which outfalls at North Maxville are constructed, inactive or active.
  • Inspection frequency of inactive ponds at North Maxville does not appear to be adequate.
  • Twin Pines area needs to be added to IW permit — to include monitoring & inspecting requirements.

[Sampling & Records and Reports]
Sampling & Records and Reports

Apparently Twin Pines still wasn’t even added to the permit a year later, since that’s still a subject of the Consent Order.

Nonetheless, the Consent Order says “Twin Pines is currently included in the Trailridge permit by reference.” That’s the mine nearest Starke, so it’s a good guess that TrailRidge Mine is where TPM means when it tells people it wants to send ore from Charlton County to Starke.

[Aerial context, Valdosta, GA to Jacksonville, FL]
Aerial context, Valdosta, GA to Jacksonville, FL

Do we really need a line of mines all along Trail Ridge, with the TPM Charlton County mine in the middle, much closer to the Okefenokee Swamp than all the rest?

The northernmost mine marked on that map, north of Folkston on Winokur Road, is Mission Mine South, of Southern Ionics. Chemours this month acquired the Mining Operations of Southern Ionics Minerals. So now it’s Chemours mines in a line up and down Trail Ridge, with TPM proposing to mine in the middle and ship its ore to “Starke,” apparently meaning the Chemours Trailridge Mine southeast of Starke, in Bradford County, Florida.

Seems like there’s enough mining already without risking the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and sending more ore to a site in Bradford County that’s already under a Consent Order.

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.

Meetings in August 2019

Upcoming in August 2019 are two Public Meetings by Twin Pines Minerals (these are not public hearings; no decision-making government body is involved in organizing these miners' meetings):

  • 5:30-8:30 PM, Tuesday, August 13, Auditorium, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA,
    Come early at 4PM. Bring pictures of people with animals and plants or bring a sign if you can.
    facebook event
  • 5:30-8:30 PM, Wednesday, August 14, Fire Station Number 2, 13063 Florida Avenue, St. George, GA.
    Come early at 4PM. Bring pictures of people with animals and plants or bring a sign if you can.
    facebook event

This one is a decision-making governmental body:

  • 6PM, Thursday, August 15, Charlton County Commission, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA.
    They have already drafted a resolution in support of the mine.
    Local people especially, please come say you don't want that,
    or at least ask the county to insist on an Environmental Impact Statement first.
    No demonstration outside, please; just come in, politely listen, and speak.

Suggestion from St. Mary's Earthkeepers, plus Suwannee:

Feel free to use the following “talking points” in your email:

  • The Okefenokee Swamp/National Wildlife Refuge/Wilderness is NOT a suitable location for a titanium mine. The Swamp is considered one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia", is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, and has been designated a National Natural Landmark.
  • The health of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers depends on the integrity of the Okefenokee Swamp, myriad species rely on its wellbeing, and tourism in the area is an economic boon to our region.
  • The Twin Pines mining project presents unnecessary and unacceptable risks, and I urge the Charlton County Commissioners to oppose this project unless and until a thorough Environmental Impact study shows that no harm will be done to the Swamp, its tributaries, rivers, and future. I am joined in my concern by the Georgia Conservancy, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Suwannee Riverkeeper, and over 20 other regional and national environmental organizations.

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

“We have concerns that the proposed project poses substantial risks for significant affect to the environment. Should impacts occur they may not be able to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for."

"Titanium is a common mineral, while the Okefenokee is a very uncommon swamp."

"This will likely change its properties and the hydrology of the area."

Please email the following people and ask that your message be shared with all Commissioners.

COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR, HAMPTON RAULERSON
hraulerson@charltoncountyga.gov

County Clerk, Jennifer Nobles
jnobles@charltoncountyga.gov

Chairman James E. Everett
jevephotochristianbooks@windstream.net

For more more about the mining application near the Okefenokee, see: http://wwals.net/pictures/2019-07-12–tpm-usace/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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