With a small tent nearby providing some amount of shade, around a dozen people or more kicked off a two-hour demonstration at the corner of Warde Street and U.S. Highway 17 — the southwest corner of Hercules’ Terry Creek property.
It’s still very much undecided what will happen regarding future cleanup actions, as the federal government decides whether to go forward with a proposed consent decree between it and Hercules. The plan they propose would put a geotextile cover over contaminated sediment that remains at the outfall. A concrete-lined channel would reroute current discharge.
“We want to wave to people and get them to honk, because we’re saying honk for clean water,” said Alice Keyes — vice president of coastal conservation at One Hundred Miles — as a car honked its response to signs already by the road. “And honk for a better plan, a better cleanup.”
Keyes walked over to a group of signs and pulled one out specifically calling on the local federal magistrate judge to act.
“We’re hopeful that this guy will get the message,” she said. “Judge (Benjamin) Cheesbro … is going to have to make a decision whether to accept the bad cleanup agreement, or tell EPA and Hercules to not go back to the drawing board, but look to other alternatives.”
The event, while organized by One Hundred Miles and the Altamaha Riverkeeper, included various unaffiliated other people who dropped by to participate throughout the event — that included Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey and City Commissioner Johnny Cason.
The intention was for people to move in and out of the demonstration as they could, being as it was near a roadway in late afternoon with 90 degree temperatures. However, the Terry Creek issue over a number of years, and especially the last several months, riled up a large amount of the local community, cutting across nearly every demographic.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department and Hercules, who have the most power here, thus far have shown they want to go in a direction opposed by a significant number of local residents and nearly every elected official in Glynn County.
Cheesbro on May 14 ordered the federal government to respond as to its progress in processing “approximately one hundred comments” on the proposed decree, noting federal officials told the court five months ago it was involved in this process and had yet to notify the court on their advancement.
DOJ attorney Valerie Mann filed a new status report Friday that states the government won’t be in a position to comment for around another month or two.
“In the proposed consent decree, Hercules LLC agreed to implement the interim remedy selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the outfall, to reimburse the EPA $153,009.48 in past response costs at the site, and to pay future response costs incurred by the United States in connection with the proposed consent decree,” Mann wrote.
She later added, “The United States has been diligently reviewing the approximately one hundred public comments received during the extended public comment period. The United States anticipates it will be in a position in the next 30-60 days to make a motion to the court regarding the United States’ position on the lodged consent decree.”