More questions about strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD to miners 2021-09-10

GA-EPD last Friday sent another request for clarifications to the miners about their proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can ask GA-EPD to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.

[Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter]
Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter

Most of the new questions are about how bentonite clay will be used. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has actually been asking about that since December 5, 2019.

A question GA-EPD did not ask is what if the clay gets into waterways with fish? Bentonite in small particles can get into the gills of fish and suffocate them, and bentonite can also deplete oxygen: see Identification of Oxygen-Depleting Components in MX-80 Bentonite, Torbjörn Carlsson and Arto Muurine, Cambridge University Press, 01 February 2011.

GA-EPD also asked about water draining into the Floridan Aquifer or into rivers, or water moving in the other direction.

Exhibit I Modeling the GW Flow System Comments James L. Kennedy Ph.D., P.G.


Page 8: Explicitly explain what use of the drains versus rivers means in the model. In MODFLOW drains can receive water from the modeled aquifer but cannot recharge the modeledaquifer. A river can both receive water from the modeled aquifer and discharge water to the modeled aquifer.

[Figure 22. Wetlands and Stream Channels]
Figure 22. Wetlands and Stream Channels

Explain that the drains were modeled based on the surface water courses shown on Figures 22 and 23. Explain that no rivers were modeled because there are no rivers within the model domain.

[Figure 23. Model Grid...]
Figure 23. Model Grid…

This seems related to the Waterkeeper Alliance point ”that For reasons that are unclear, the Corps did not discuss the streams at the site, which appear to be, but not are not being treated as, jurisdictional waters under the CWA.” Any mining hydrology plan is defective if does not connect the mine site and its wetlands with streams that connect to rivers, as well as to the Floridan Aquifer,

This new GA-EPD letter is on the GA-EPD website, along with all the other permit application materials.

Remember to send GA-EPD your commments:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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