COASTLINES, CAMDEN AND CHEMICALS
Coastal Georgians are no strangers to bulkheads, wooden or cement retaining walls built to protect land against erosion. But a diverse coalition of scientists and conservationists wants to replace them with an eco-friendly solution called living shorelines. These bio-engineered projects use oyster shells and native plants to craft natural habitats that can protect coastlines from erosion exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. The Current visited the living shoreline at Cannon’s Point, and talked to those advocating for more. See how they are being used successfully along the coast.
SPACEPORT GETS CLOSER TO REALITY
Last week in Camden County, state regulators with the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources gave their OK to the Spaceport Camden project. Their review determined that rocket launches from the project would not violate state laws protecting the environment of nearby barrier islands. In a letter issued late last week, DNR said it collaborated with Camden County officials and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop ways to minimize the potential hazards of the facility. Camden County commissioners, county administrator Steve Howard, and other project supporters say the spaceport would bring economic benefits to the county. Environmentalists strongly oppose the project and say the potential for launched rockets to fail and spread fire is a risk that shouldn’t be allowed. Megan Desrosiers, president of One Hundred Miles, has organized a petition to hold a special election for a public vote on Camden County’s plan to purchase property for the project. The organization also notes that the potential future site of Spaceport Camden is heavily contaminated with toxic waste, meaning taxpayers will be on the hook for site cleanup.
SHIP WATCH: What’s arriving and when. This week’s lineup includes the COSCO SHIPPING JASMINE, arriving on July 18. It’s 1,200 feet long and 157.5 feet wide, and it carries 13,500 TEUs, aka containers, according to VesselTracker.com.
CORPS FACES SUIT FOR CUMBERLAND DOCK
The Center for a Sustainable Coast filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month, arguing that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Cumberland Island legislation in Camden County by issuing a permit in 2016 to allow a private dock to be built on the Cumberland Island National Seashore. According to a new press release, Lumar LLC, a group that represents the heirs of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, sought the permit to build the dock from an 87-acre parcel they own on the National Seashore. National seashores are coastal areas reserved by the federal government for public recreation, like a national park. There’s more to come on this.
THE CHEMICALS THAT DON’T DIE
And finally, documents obtained recently from the Physicians for Social Responsibility found that in 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved chemicals for fracking that could break down into toxic-forever chemicals, the New York Times reported this week. From 2012 to 2020, companies like Chevron and Exxon used the chemicals to frack, or extract oil or gas from the ground, in six states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. This could have contaminated the state’s water supply with the chemicals, also known as PFAS, a group of nearly 5,000 substances that take hundreds of years to break down in the environment. They are found in the blood of 99% of Americans, and are linked to reproductive, developmental and immune system impacts in lab animals, according to the EPA.
What’s the Coastal Georgia connection? This is the same type of chemical the KingAmerica finishing plant — now the Milliken & Company’s Longleaf Plant — was found to be discharging into the Ogeechee River in 2011 to cause the largest fish kill in Georgia history. Last November, the plant drew scrutiny again after the Ogeechee Riverkeeper said PFAS was found in fish from the river and Milliken had asked for relaxed permits for discharges from the plant. You can use this map from the Environmental Working Group to explore other PFAS contamination across the country.
BEACH ADVISORIES: There are no current beach advisories or warnings along Georgia’s coast. Before you head to the beach, check the link for updates.
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Living shorelines are proven to be environmentally beneficial and resilient against the effects of rising sea levels, but for decades, bulkheads have been the go-to technology for government agencies and private property owners in need of erosion protection along the coast.
Spaceport Camden’s plans call for building a facility and launch pads that allow for as many as 12 small commercial rocket launches annually over five years.
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