In September, we used this space to advocate for a full cleanup of the Terry Creek outfall site. Nine months later, we are still waiting to hear what will happen with the site.
Terry Creek is not an official Superfund site, but it is treated that way by the government through a process called the Superfund Alternative Approach. That approach focuses on securing an agreement with the responsible party for remedial action. In this case, that means Hercules.
The Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and Hercules entered into a consent decree for the least expensive option for the company. Hercules has removed 35,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment but didn’t get it all.
The agreement didn’t sit well with many in Glynn County. Both the Brunswick City Commission and Glynn County Commission called for a full cleanup of the area. They were supported by a diverse group of organizations such as the Glynn County Board of Health and the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.
We were, and still are, confused why all the parties that made the agreement didn’t think a full cleanup was in the best interest of Terry Creek. Hercules doing the minimum to clean up a problem it created is one thing, but the federal government agreeing to it still boggles the mind. The lack of accountability by all the parties involved implies that they don’t really care what happens to the area.
Meanwhile, the people who live here were understandably upset with the decision. Residents had a chance to voice their feelings on the agreement to the government, and that is exactly what a lot of people did. In a status report on the decree, DOJ attorney Valerie Mann wrote in December that approximately 100 comments were received. Mann labeled that as an “unusually high volume of comments.”
Five months have passed since that status report without a word about what will happen. On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro ordered the federal government to respond to where the consent degree stands regarding the cleanup. The government has until May 28 to comply.
Our hope is that the government will come to its senses that the consent decree is not what is best for Terry Creek. When people make a mistake and realize it, those with a conscience go above and beyond to make it up. Doing the minimum when it’s your mistake is just a way of saying you don’t really care.
We, as a community, deserve better than the minimum when it comes to Terry Creek.