Tag Archives: Trail Ridge

Okefenokee bills, Georgia legislature 2024-02-21

As crossover day approaches in the Georgia legislature, events are moving faster about the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

In addition to a mining prohibition bill that has been in the legislature since last year, now there is a fine, draft permits, and two new bills, for increased criminal penalties, and for a mining moratorium (with a big catch).

None of these are likely to stop this specific “demonstration” mine, but some of them could prevent any further such mines.

Crossover day is the day by which a bill has to have been passed by one house to get into the other house. It’s February 29 this year, Thursday of next week.

[Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles]
Okefenokee NationaGl Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles
Map courtesy Prof. Can Denizman and students, Valdosta State University.

Draft Permits

As previously mentioned, On February 9, 2024, GA-EPD published draft permits (surface mining, water withdrawal, and air quality). for the applications by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) to strip mine for titanium dioxide (TiO2) within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, between Moniac and St. George, Georgia. You have until April 9 to comment, and there is a public online meeting on March 5.

Details here:
https://wwals.net/?p=64142

Consent Orders

Back in January, I was told by a former state legislator that these miners be very careful to avoid infractions, because they had a lot of money riding on their venture. A week later, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) issued a Consent Order on TPM, saying back in 2018 the miners had drilled soil samples without a professional geologist or engineer supervising, as required by state law, and they also failed to provide a letter of credit or a performance bond. TPM “voluntarily” agreed to pay a tiny fine of $20,000. For more details, see Russ Bynum, AP, 24 January 2024, Company seeking to mine near Okefenokee will pay $20,000 to settle environmental violation claims.

This is not the first time TPM has been under a Consent Order. Continue reading

Nashville, Georgia, resolution opposing strip mining in or near the Okefenokee Swamp

Thank you, Nashville, Georgia, Mayor and Council, for passing a resolution supporting the Okefenokee Swamp against the proposed strip mine.

[City of Nashville Resolution and Okefenokee NWR sign]
City of Nashville Resolution and Okefenokee NWR sign

For the increasing number of these resolutions, see:
https://wwals.net/?p=57248

Please ask your Georgia statehouse members to pass HB 71. Floridians, ask your friends and relatives in Georgia to do that. And ask your city or county in Florida to also pass a resolution.

For more about this issue, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

The resolution

Continue reading

Chant for the Okefenokee –Jane Ross Fallon 2024-01-04

As Jane Fallon sings,

There is no right way
To do the wrong thing.

[Movie: Chant for the Okefenokee --Jane Ross Fallon (8.5M)]
Movie: Chant for the Okefenokee –Jane Ross Fallon

You can help stop a strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp for titanium dioxide for white paint:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining

Georgians, ask your statehouse delegation to pass HB 71 to stop further such mines on Trail Ridge east of the Swamp.
https://protectgeorgia.org/okefenokee/#/366/

Floridians, ask your friends and relatives in Georgia to do this, and ask the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny the permits for this single point source of pollution upstream of Florida.

Jane Ross Fallon wrote, “I recently won the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. The contest video of my performance did not turn out, and it was suggested I film one myself. John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, sent me a banner to use. So I made a video with my cell in my house. I didn’t think the sonic quality of the phone was adequate, so I recorded the song on my computer, overdubbing the video. Never done that before. Then I decided, it’s not about me, it’s about the song and its purpose. So I made a more elaborate presentation. Let me know if it works.😏”

Lyrics

Here is Jane’s video of her Chant for the Okefenokee.
https://youtu.be/UQx9eEWbEcI Continue reading

Georgia Conservationists meet in Waycross to protect the Okefenokee from mining 2023-11-10

“Beyond Trail Ridge, cities and counties in the Suwannee River Basin value the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee River, and are passing resolutions supporting the Okefenokee Swamp and legislation protecting it, including the City of Valdosta and Clinch and Echols Counties,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Douglas Now, November 10, 2023, GEORGIA CONSERVATIONISTS MEET IN WAYCROSS TO PROTECT THE OKEFENOKEE FROM MINING,

The Georgia Water Coalition hosted its Fall Member meeting in Waycross November 8—10, 2023. Conservationists from around the state learned more about the Okefenokee and how to protect it from risky mining operations.

Attendees toured the Okefenokee Swamp Park, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the St. Marys River. During the member meeting at South Georgia State College, Georgia Water Coalition members learned about how mining proposals along Trail Ridge threaten the Okefenokee.

[Boats and inside]
Mike Worley, CEO, Georgia Wildlife Federation welcomes Georgia Water Coalition members at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, and inside Okefenokee NWR Manager Michael Lusk, Alice Keys of One Hundred Miles, St. Marys Riverkeeper Emily Floore, Local resident Charlene McIntosh Carter of Okefenokee Pastimes Cabins and Campground, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. Photo: Southwings.

“The Okefenokee touches everyone that touches its dark waters,” Continue reading

Ask Georgia legislators to support HB 71 to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from mining 2023-02-12

The headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, the Okefenokee Swamp, is threatened by a proposed strip mine too close to it. That mine site also sits above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

Here is a handy form you can use to ask your Georgia state legislators to support HB 71, to protect the largest blackwater wetland in North America:
https://protectgeorgia.org/okefenokee/#/366/

[Bear: Protect the Okefenokee]
Bear: Protect the Okefenokee

And don’t forget to send GA-EPD comments on the Mining Land Use Plan:
https://wwals.net/?p=60735

Floridians, you can Continue reading

Phosphate and titanium mining, water withdrawals, and trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council had several public speakers cram topics into their three minutes each.

[Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26]
Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

Two directly-affected women and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), talked about the Cornerstone Crossings mega development on top of Clay Hole Creek and Cannon Creek confluence, a part of the Ichetucknee Trace, which is in the Southwest quadrant of I-75 and SR 47 Hwy interchange, due south of Lake City in Columbia County, Florida. Merillee wondered about the development’s water withdrawal permit, and how much PFAS it might unleash into the waterways and the underlying Floridan Aquifer. She displayed LiDAR maps she got from SRWMD that clearly show the Ichetucknee Trace. Continue reading

Clean Rivers 2022-12-29

Update 2023-01-06: Bad Upstream: Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2023-01-05.

WWALS tests for Thursday upstream and downstream, and Valdosta upstream tests for Wednesday agree: clean Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers.

There was some rain last night, but probably not enough to wash much contamination into the rivers.

So happy swimming, fishing, and boating for New Years!

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide, 2022-12-29]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide, 2022-12-29

Two pollution spills have been reported this week.

On Sunday, December 18, 2022 (reported more than a week later on December 27), Ashburn, Georgia, spilled 3,000 gallons of sewage from their MLK Lift Station into Ashburn Branch, which flows into the Little River. But that’s too little and too far upstream to affect the river. Ashburn’s excuse: power failure. Maybe they should invest in a backup generator.

On Monday, December 26, 2022, the Chemours Trail Ridge South Mine southeast of Starke, Florida, spilled some unknown amount of not exactly sure what, at the top edge of the Santa Fe River Basin. Their excuse? Cold weather.

More on those spills later in separate posts. Continue reading

More than 40 scientists oppose strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-11-30

Dozens of scientists across the U.S. have written a letter spelling out dangers of strip mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

They couldn’t cover everything, but they found scientific evidence running from habitat loss, fire risk, and lowering the Floridan Aquifer, to dark skies, tourism, and economy, including: “Mining will impact the water quality of the Okefenokee Swamp and downstream rivers, including the St Mary’s and Suwannee Rivers, through release of stored chemicals, including toxic heavy metals.”

You can mention the scientists’ letter when you ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny the miners’ permit applications.

[Heavy Mineral Mining In The Atlantic Coastal Plain-0006]
The mine site is labeled Saunders Tract in the middle of this map. See Figure 5.

The situation is no different from when DuPont tried to mine next to the Swamp twenty years ago. As Gordon Jackson points out in The Brunswick News (December 9, 2021), “The argument two decades ago and today is there has never been a comprehensive study to show how much of an impact, if any, disturbing the layered soil would have on the refuge.”

Naturally, the miners disagreed, according to Emily Jones for WABE (December 1, 2021): Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals supplied more documents to GA-EPD about mining near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-06-25

The miners finally responded to GA-EPD’s questions from April about more information for the five permit applications to strip mine titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Checking today with Georgia Environmental Protection Division Deputy Director John Eunice, it will probably take several weeks for EPD’s Mining group to review the documents. If EPD finds documents or information still missing, they may ask Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, for more. When at some point EPD finds enough information to call it a complete application, they will announce a Public Hearing with a public comment period.

You can go ahead and ask GA-EPD to reject the permit applications, or at least thoroughly evaluate them:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

The miners’ recent documents contain plenty of reasons to reject the permits, including they say themselves they didn’t answer all the questions, and they keep sending maps including land owned by TIAA as part of their mine site after TIAA rejected that many months ago.

[Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps]
Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps

I’d say the miners themselves said their responses were incomplete in items 5 and 6 on page 12 of their Response to Comments: Continue reading

SRWMD disclaims responsibility for new Chemours titanium mine near Starke

Much like the SRWMD Board listened to its attorneys and approved Nestlé Ginnie Springs water withdrawal near the Santa Fe River, SRWMD says it has no authority to stop the proposed new titanium mine Chemours wants near Starke, the fifth one in Florida, plus the two or three Chemours has in Georgia, plus the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, all on Trail Ridge, the north-south divide between the Suwannee River and St. Johns River Basins in Florida, and the dam that holds in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

The reporter has a good idea: SRWMD could charge Chemours for access through state property to its mine site.

Meanwhile, FDEP Mining and Mitigation has issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Environmental Resource Permit, which includes contact information for comments, and how you could file a request for a legal hearing.

You can also still ask Georgia officials to stop the other proposed mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC]
Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC

Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix, 20 May 2021, FL allowing mining of state-owned wetlands has a certain smell to it,

But the region also boasts a multitude of springs, lakes, creeks, and rivers, including the Santa Fe and the famous Suwannee, celebrated in our problematic state song. Overseeing these watery state assets is the Suwannee River Water Management District, which in 2015 spent $3.9 million to buy more than 2,000 acres of forest and swamp near Starke from the timber company Rayonier.

“It seemed like a good purchase,” Tom Mirti, the district’s deputy executive director, told me this week.

District officials figured they could use that land for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects, including creating a wildlife corridor for bears and other wide-ranging animals between the Ocala National Forest and the Osceola National Forest, he said.

There was just one problem: Rayonier kept the mineral rights to the property. Then the timber giant turned around and leased those mineral rights to Chemours. And there wasn’t a thing the water agency could say about it.

Continue reading