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POSTED: May 3, 2010 2:28 p.m.
Well, there you go! I spend time and take up valuable space in this paper telling people that offshore oil well drilling has a sterling reputation of success where oil spills are a concern and bingo! We now have the first serious oil rig spill in the history of the industry. I hope and pray the flow is stopped before the slick reaches the fragile eco-systems of the Chaudeleurs Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
As with the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez, I am sure that new and stronger regulations will evolve from this event along with a multitude of additional layers of technical barriers to help prevent the repetition of such a horrendous accident.
Now, to re-visit a problem of considerable concern right here at home where the protection of the sensitive and valuable salt marsh eco-system is involved. I refer to an article in the Saturday, April 24 edition of this paper. The article relayed commentary from supporters of the proposed waste water treatment plant in Liberty County.
Mr. Wayne Murphy, project manager for CH2MHill waxed on about all of the accomplishments of the study done by the EPD. Of course the end result was, as predicted by me almost two years ago when the EPD announced they were going to repeat the study. In the first place I fail to see how you can repeat something that has never been done. The predicted result was that they would find that the salt marsh is just perfect for use as a dump site for treated sewage. Low and behold Mr. Murphy’s detailed review of the details of the study did just that.
However, I can only repeat that, in my opinion, all of the material Mr. Murphy was so pleased to report to the LCIA is bogus. The recent study itself was bogus. The conclusions reached by using a single directional model to process the already faulty date are nothing more than a facade. I can’t describe them in any other way. It is all very similar to a 21st century pitch from a 19th century snake oil salesman. The facts are astoundingly impressive and at the same time totally unfounded. The only difference being, that even though the snake oil wasn’t going to produce the declared results, it probably wouldn’t hurt you either.
That is not the case here. If this one continues to be called wrong we could all suffer the consequences for a very long time to come.
The EPD has stated that the LCDA must re-submit their request for the permit. That is not a concession or a revelation coming from the EPD. The truth has yet to set them free of their responsibility and their guilt in this matter. It is simply them following procedures involving time lapses etc.
There was a glimmer of hope that sound thinking has prevailed in the fact that the Liberty County Industrial Authority has stated that they do not intend to request the permit authorization until they assess their needs.
I guess it was sort of a “build it and they will come” attitude that has turned into a “maybe they are not coming after all” conclusion. Mr. Ron Tolly suggested that their original client for the plant had disappeared but that they would find a new one.  I was under the impression that the plant was designed to handle residential waste flow. At least that was the line. Is there industry involved?! We already know that the prerequisites established by the EPD/DNR for testing of waste streams are pitifully limited. It seemed that all of the considerations around the waste stream from the proposed plant were about residential application. Has that changed? Just asking.
Sewage plant discharge contains both chemical and biological agents, a very complex soup of toxins, most of which is not tested for. Improperly treated and residual toxicants in our salt marshes can result in high mortality rates of marine life, reduction in growth, reproductive impairment, changes in numbers of species, and general disruption of community and ecosystems functions. That’s just a starter. The much touted MBR system proposed for the Liberty County site can be blinded by grease and abraded by suspended grit. The clarifier does not have the flexibility to pass peak flows. The better application for an MBR system is at the end of reliably pre-treated waste streams.
The real concern here is not the projected volume of waste streams the LCIA thinks they might have to handle or for that matter anything the LCIA or the LCDA or any other government body in Liberty County have concerns about. Those concerns are the business of the residents of Liberty County.
The real concern here was, from the very beginning and remains so, the apparent total absence of the ability or intent of the EPD to do the job they are assigned to do.  Their tenacious march to the obvious and inevitable goal of issuing the permit requested by LCDA regardless of the circumstances has been an amazing and eye opening event.
It raises the question about the rest of the bodies of water in Georgia. I understand that about sixty percent are functioning at sub-standard levels. Do we now know the reason why?
Every politician in the state of Georgia should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such a travesty to continue.
The residents of this coast have repeatedly asked for just one thing, a properly done scientific study conducted by qualified people. The activities of the EPD have not even  come close to accommodating this action. This is not my unsupported personal opinion. It is the only conclusion anyone can reach if they accept the well documented scientific facts of the matter. Why are so many afraid of the truth?

Hubbard is an environmentalist.
 

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