QUARTERMAN: Strip mine would endanger swamp

Submitted PhotoOkefenokee Swamp signs are located at Interstate 75 exits 18 and 16. 

Signs at Exits 18 and 16 from Interstate 75 say, “Okefenokee Swamp, Stephen C. Foster State Park, 62 miles,” in hopes travelers will stay in Valdosta first. 

The Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee River, a favorite paddling, birding and fishing location of many people from here. The smoke from the 2017 West Mims Okefenokee fire reached Valdosta. Charlton County thanked Lowndes County for sending assistance.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of that fire, some miners from Alabama bought up land southeast of the Swamp. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Ala., applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to strip mine titanium less than three miles from the Swamp. 

After more than 20,000 public comments, the miners this March retracted that application. They filed a new one in April, for slightly smaller acreage. So far more than 30,000 public comments have been filed, also overwhelmingly against.

Yet the miners persist in wanting titanium dioxide for paint. These same miners are under a Florida consent order along with Chemours for a variety of infractions at four titanium mines in north Florida. See: http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

Any change to the water level or water composition of the Swamp would affect the whole Swamp, including Stephen C. Foster State Park. That would affect the Suwannee River, beloved by South Georgia and north Florida.

The Corps should at least require an environmental impact statement.

To comment to the Corps, send email by Thursday, May 28, to:

CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil

Mention Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

 

John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper with WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

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