All that glitters is not gold.
Anyone interested in researching the loopholes that allow a dirty industry to operate in Liberty County?
The benefit of allowing Firth Rixson to establish itself in the area is touted as being the creation of a hundred jobs of a highly technical nature that will be created in the most recently approved expansion.
Someone from Liberty County actually claimed that the workforce in Liberty County is highly technical. Wow, a perfect marriage!
I don’t think so.
We have a British company sullying the air that we breathe in Bryan County with a proven health hazard in the form of particulate matter. The good old boys in Liberty County think it is a good idea.
The permitting of the construction of that plant is, in my opinion, another example of the inability of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to do the job it is supposed to do.
Certainly, that job includes holding the interests of the citizens of Georgia above those of foreign industry and a select few good old boys.
Just off the top of my head, we permit a huge wastewater treatment plant to discharge treated sewage directly into the marsh. We have our new neighbor, Firth Rixson, which admittedly will be dumping 80 tons of particulate matter into our air for us to breathe, not to mention the mercury discharge that will accompany it. And we have the mysterious discharge of fish-killing poison into the Ogeechee River. The source remains a mystery, even though there are color photos of its source.
The EPD is the only entity in the state that doesn’t know what killed the fish in the Ogeechee River. The Ogeechee Riverkeepers have proof of the source, but no one in Atlanta wants to hear about it.
A factory that is based in Chicago and employees a total of three people is responsible. They are not just responsible for the last fish kill but have been the subject of numerous environmental violations with no repercussions going back literally to the day they began operations several years ago.
I am sure the EPD has a good explanation. The division just doesn’t seem to be interested in sharing it. Well, the truth can hurt.
Comparatively speaking, we are well on our way to turning a pristine coastline into just another industrial dump. Georgia does not need to be the new dumping ground for every dirty industry coming down the pike.
We currently are in first place for open-armed invitations to coal-fired power plants that many states now totally ban.
Build the plant here and sell the power elsewhere. Let Georgians breathe and eat the mercury and particulate pollution that spews from those plants.
The expected pollution numbers that Firth Rixson has provided make the company as bad as a coal-fired power plant.
Do you really believe that Firth Rixson only will emit the 0.4 pounds of mercury every year? That much is bad enough, but they are not stupid.
Do you really think a company is going to include pollution discharge numbers in a permit application that will exceed the limitations that they are fully aware of?
I have no doubt that Firth Rixson can argue that it produces the very best of a very necessary product. It is irrelevant to the argument for a reasonably clean environment that the citizens of Coastal Georgia enjoy.
I also have no doubt that there are clean industries out there that would be willing and ready to take advantage of the highly technical workforce that Liberty County is ready to provide.
It’s a fact that the waters south of us around Brunswick are so contaminated that there are tri-colored warning posters about the dangers of eating the fish and shellfish from there. Don’t take my word; ask the DNR in Brunswick for one of those well-hidden documents.
The Savannah River is in fourth place for the most polluted river in the United States. The Ogeechee is not far behind with the fish kills.
I know, times are tough and jobs are scarce, so let’s sell our souls to the devil for a short-term solution as a trade for the serious decline in the quality of Coastal Georgians’ lives for generations to come.
Hubbard is a charter boat captain and environmental activist living in Richmond Hill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.