"President George Bush is to bring leaders of the world's richest to Sea Island next month to showcase his 'environmental stewardship'.And, I just got news from somewhere that congress is trying to let the dept of energy to leave nuclear waste material along the Savanah River in SC, just North of Sea Island. Ahhhh, the ecological conservation of Baby Bush and Co. It makes me proud.
But the island - the most beautiful of the sub-tropical Golden Isles off the Georgia coast - is in one of the most polluted areas of the American South. Glynn County, which contains Sea Island - the site of next month's G8 summit - is home to 16 hazardous waste plants.
A nearby polluting paper mill is being closed down while the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Tony Blair, are in the neighbourhood.
Of the 16 hazardous waste sites within 10 miles of the island, four are so contaminated they have been designated for government treatment programmes. They include a tidal creek and landfill dump full of a banned pesticide; a former chemical factory that dumped toxic mercury in local creeks; and a defunct wood preservatives factory.
Before the clean-up began, shrimpers used to dock their boats in one of the creeks so the pollution would kill the barnacles on their hulls.
The most visible sign of pollution is the Hercules factory, emblemised by its two tall stainless steel chimneys gorging large clouds of vapour over the causeway leading to Sea Island. Its smell - a cocktail of glue and stewed cabbage - hangs like a pall.
The factory makes a variety of things, including paper and resin products, but the G8 leaders won't smell it, since it will be closed down during their stay for "holidays".
The locals are resigned to it. Emerson Gay, a retired policeman, says: "Some folks say the smell is the smell of money, which is why it's lasted so long. At least the stuff they're burning in it now is not as nasty as it was."
But the summit - and George Bush's boasts - are unlikely to make things much better. Virtually none of the millions spent on the G8 will find its way into environmental projects. On the road approach to Sea Island last week they were busy stuffing in mature palm trees and erecting quaint lighting. But there isn't much else."
That should help make Sea Island an even bigger magnet for wealthy people. On the bright side, at least the wealthy can afford to have their drinking water trucked in.
ENERGY DEPT. BUDGET AMENDMENT PUTS SAVANNAH RIVER WATER AT RISK
PAST PERFORMANCE OF GROUT INDICATES IT MAY NOT ADEQUATELY CONTAIN WASTE,
CREATING RISK OF IRREPARABLE RIVER POLLUTION BEYOND DRINKING WATER LIMITS
Takoma Park, Maryland, May 17, 2004: A new analysis by the Institute for
Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) concludes that a Senate budget
amendment allowing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to abandon highly
radioactive wastes in tanks next to the Savannah River poses severe
risks for the environment and public health. DOE wants to attempt to
grout, or cement, residual wastes in place rather than spend additional
funds to pump them out.
According to IEER President, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, "Calculations show
that if only ten percent of the strontium-90 presently in the tank farms
at the Savannah River Site were left behind and grouted, the grout would
have to work nearly perfectly for hundreds of years to prevent the
Savannah River from becoming polluted above the present Safe Drinking
Water limit. There is no experience with grout that can allow
containment projections of this magnitude. On the contrary, experience
with grout so far has been unsatisfactory.
Leakage of even a small fraction of the strontium-90 at Savannah River
Site (SRS) into the Savannah River could be disastrous, environmentally
"In 1991, major economic damage occurred when the drinking water
standard for the Savannah River was exceeded for only a few days due to
a tritium leak," Makhijani noted, "even though the standard is
calculated as an annual average and there was no annual violation."