Spaceport

A vehicle parked in downtown St. Marys promotes a proposed spaceport in Camden County.

WOODBINE — A hazardous waste landfill may be an obstacle to establishing a spaceport in Camden County, critics say.

The 58-acre landfill is located about 1.6 miles from the proposed spaceport launch site and a mile from the landing pad, and could be within the required blast exclusion zone.

The concern is seismic activity from launches and landings could impact the area surrounding the landfill, and a launch or landing accident could cause failure of the landfill containment, contaminating surrounding areas.

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard said the ongoing environmental assessment will look at all the potential risks and determine if they are legitimate concerns. Until the study is completed, any claims about the impacts are merely speculation.

“The county is doing due diligence with these issues,” Howard said. “The due diligence period is designed to allow the Board of County Commissioners to investigate findings of fact and other independent analysis to be conducted concerning the subject property over a two-year period.”

He described the 4,000-acre site, where as many as 700 employees once worked, a “stranded asset.”

Howard said the county is actually conducting two due diligence processes simultaneously. One will determine possible uses for the site at the end of Harrietts Bluff Road, about 10 miles east of Interstate 95. The other will determine if a spaceport is an appropriate use for the site.

Several years ago, a study commissioned by the Georgia Military Affairs Committee recommended the state reach out to space companies because of its proximity between Marshall Space Center in Alabama and Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ironically, the study was conducted before there was any thought of a launch facility in Georgia.

During a recent meeting of the Space Working Group, members concluded a launch site in Camden County “exponentially” increases the state’s ability to attract companies involved in the space economy.

Despite opposition by some individuals, Howard said he welcomes the scrutiny.

“I think it’s a better project when you have input,” he said. “There’s obstacles and challenges on the project, but with any project there are solutions.”

Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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