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.
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.
You can read the Consent Order yourself:
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.
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.
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.
The current comment deadline is Tuesday, April 14, 2020, according to the Public Notice of March 13, 2020.
That thirty day deadline is grossly inadequate, especially considering that everyone is advised to stay home for eight weeks or 56 days because of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Plus the entire Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) application is hundreds of pages, and nobody can adequately absorb and analyze all that in thirty days.
While you are at home, you have a great opportunity to write a comment, and to write to your elected officials. You can also post your comments on social media, as op-eds, etc.
In your comment, perhaps you would like to ask for a deadline extension of 120 days, and a public hearing.
You can ask the Corps and other elected and appointed officials to deny the application, or to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider wider areas the mine may affect, especially the entire Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, and the rest of Trail Ridge in Georgia. You can ask for the EIS to include other mines relevant to this one, especially the four Chemours titanium strip mines in north Florida for which TPM, along with Chemours, is under a Florida Consent Order for a range of violations. You may want to ask for inclusion of the existing phosphate mine in Hamilton County, Florida, next to the Suwannee River, as well as the one proposed in Union and Bradford Counties, Florida, next to the New and Santa Fe Rivers, tributaries of the Suwannee. All those mines affect the Floridan Aquifer, which is the main source of water for drinking, agriculture, and industry for everyone in south Georgia and north Florida.
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 CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, email@example.com
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.
For the Georgia Coastal Management Program certification, you can send a comment to
Federal Consistency Coordinator, Ecological Services Section, Coastal Resources Division,
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Georgia 31523-9600
The public announcement says: “The applicant may also require assent from the State of Georgia, which may be in the form of a license, easement, lease, permit, or other appropriate instrument.”
You can write to your Georgia state representative or senator
or governor or lieutenant governor and ask them to refuse any such instrument.
To find your legislator you can type in your ZIP code here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
You can also write to your U.S. Representative or Senator and ask them to urge the Corps to reject this mine or at least require an EIS, like Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) already did.
You can also write to the Georgia DNR board, asking them to refuse any such instrument.
Georgia Board of Natural Resources
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, GA 30334
To submit a letter to the editor of the Charlton County Herald,
you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or write to your local newspaper.
You can also contact radio, TV, and of course post on social media.
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):
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.
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.
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
County Clerk, Jennifer Nobles
Chairman James E. Everett
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®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!