A.C.E virtual meeting on Twin Pines, with a link to the recorded webinar

Twing Pines mine ace In: A.C.E virtual meeting on Twin Pines, with a link to the recorded webinar | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

 

Yesterday your historian was able to attend the Army Corps of Engineers’ virtual meeting held to involve the public regarding Twin Pines Minerals’ plan to mine for titanium and zirconium less than three miles from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the headwaters of the Suwannee River.

Our track record for participation in webinars is abysmal but improving, as it appears many people who wanted to attend were shut out for reasons we  can’t fathom.  OSFR was also represented by President Mike Roth and we were both able to contribute comments and questions.

Project Director  and Hostess Holly Ross stated that the purpose of the meeting was to provide information about the mine to the public as well as provide public input.  To us it seemed heavily weighted on the irrelevant information side, as the presenters went on and on giving facts that had nothing to do with what the public wanted, which was information and facts dealing with the impact of the mine on the environment.  Also what the public wanted was their questions answered.  Not much of that happened.

Upon seeing that the long-winded presenters would most certainly take up all the time alloted for the webinar,  leaving none for the Q & A period, to Holly Ross’ credit, at 4 o’clock she interrupted the useless info about how clayey the soils were at every foot of depth, and allowed the Corps to comment on questions.   Moderator was Billy Birdwell and comments  were given by William Rutlin.  Reference was made to earlier emailed questions/comments by the public and those submitted during the webinar by public participants.

An oft-presented comment was the desire for an Environmental Impact Study and Mr. Rutlin’s answer was fairly much in line with Governmentese: he said the Army Corps employs an “Environmental Assessment Process,” and during the course of this process, if it should be determined that there is a need for the E.I.S., then they would do one.  So  now we know.

No clue as to if the “Process” had been done yet nor if the  “determination” had been made.

Other comments and concerns submitted during the webinar often dealt with requests for permit denial and questions pertaining to the aquifer.  Denial was  discussed briefly with no definitive answer.  We recall that during the August  2019 failed meeting in Folkston, GA. Twin Pines representatives  exhibited a surprising lack of knowledge about the aquifer.  There was not a lot of improvement at this meeting.

Twin Pines’ abysmal mining record in Florida was brought out by your historian and others.  They have been cited for serious infractions which indicate that they try to get  away with all they can and do not care for the environment nor do they respect the rules.  A.C.E. made no reference to this.

The subject of archaeological preservation brought a comment from Mr. Rutlin who said that the Native American tribes were consulted, revealing that  the Corps’ rep had no clue that today’s tribes have absolutely nothing to do with paleoindian sites dating back 12,000 to 14,o00  or more years before present.

At 4:25 pm Holly Ross closed the Q & A to return to the presentations, saying that at the end of the session they would try to have more questions.  At this point our computer, with a mind of its own,  jumped out of  the webinar, and we did not attempt to re-enter.

All in all, we appreciate that the A.C.E. took the time and trouble to conduct this meeting, but we went away without a lot of confidence that much was accomplished.

Here is a link from A.C.E where you can  access all the presentations, the agenda, the comments by the public participants, etc. etc.:  https://www.sas.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/2185012/sas-2018-00554-twin-pines-minerals/

Written comments on the proposed project and the public meeting will continue to be accepted until 28 MAY 2020 at [email protected]. The original Public Notice can be viewed here: https://www.sas.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/2111505/sas-2018-00554-sp-har/

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the recording as I will take time to review it. As I work full-time this meeting was impossible for me to attend. The SSJ Sierra Club did submit a written formal request for EIS and cited much of what is mentioned here. Again your sharing this information is very much appreciated.

  2. This meeting was a “checking the box” web get together. The people’s business at this time is (or should be) focused on our health and safety and that of our families and loved ones. Opening this vast area to titanium mining will be ruinous to the aquifer for the entire area of N FL and S GA, a claim that is backed up by experience with other mining done in my state of Florida, and will change an essential aquifer recharge area into a morass of mining sites and the roads and industrial areas needed to service them. The Okefenokee is too important to our cultural and economic diversity to allow one corporation to utterly change the entire ecology of hundreds of thousands of acres of the richest natural diversity, into a scar on the land surface the two states involved, and a gaping wound in its water supply. Environmental Impact Statements must be updated and presented to a public ready, willing and able to respond at in-person hearings, before the regulatory and regional impacts of this proposed mining site can be properly assessed. We demand such consideration, given the enormity of the mostly negative impacts of this proposal. (Comment sent to USACOE)

  3. I’d like to offer a simple thanks to Jim Tatum and Mike Roth for attending the Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACE) virtual meeting on May 13, 2020, to involve the public regarding Twin Pines Minerals’ plan to mine for titanium and zirconium less than 3 miles from Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the headwaters of Suwannee River. It is disappointing to hear that much irrelevant information was given that was not of interest or useful to the public. Thanks to Jim and Mike for attending the virtual meeting and offering your important comments.

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