EPA weighs in on mining proposal for Okefenokee Swamp

EPA weighs in on mining proposal for Okefenokee Swamp

CHARLTON COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A large mining operation proposal in our backyard has hit a bump in the road.

Twin Pines Minerals, the company that wants to begin mining 2,400 of 12,000 acres right outside of the Okefenokee Swamp, has some large organized opposition.

The company applied for a permit to mine titanium dioxide and zirconium to mine in July of this year. The site is less than four miles from the National Wildlife Refuge.

The Army Corps of Engineers gave people a chance to comment on the proposal. Last week, that comment period ended. According to their website, more than 20,000 comments were made about mining, and it wasn’t just residents or concerned citizens. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weighed in on the proposal.

In part, the letter to the Army Corps of Engineers read, “...the EPA believes that there is potential for this project as proposed to cause adverse effects to water quality and the life stages of aquatic life or other wildlife dependent on aquatic systems.”

The executive director of Georgia River Network says this was a step in the right direction for the environment.

“For EPA to come out and stand strong is just thrilling," Rena Peck Stricker said. “Georgia River Network and other groups, we feel like we’re in the eye of the storm right now, and it’s important to keep the pressure and keep the public engaged, because, in the end, it’s not an environmental impact statement that will stop a project that could be harmful to the environment to people and wildlife. It’s public outcry.”

Twin Pines has promised to plant longleaf pines after they’ve mined each section. The Charlton County Commission supports the project with the hopes of bringing about 150 jobs to the county.

We’ll see what comes next from the Army Corps of Engineers.

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