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Shell Bluff GA Timeline: Demanding Federal Environmental Monitoring Since 1989, and Still Waiting For It

Talk is cheap, and apparently so are promises.  Spurred to action by the epidemic of cancer in their midst, Shell Bluff residents and their allies have sought the testing of their air, water, fish, soil, wildlife and the human beings who live in the area.  Click the link below to see the timeline, originally compiled and published by the good people at Atlanta Womens Action for New Directions. (WAND)

1989

The Secretary of Energy (Admiral James Watkins) announced a 10-point initiative "to improve accountability of the DOE in the areas of environmental protection, public health and safety."  DOE invited states hosting DOE facilities to negotiate formal agreements to "improve their environmental monitoring capabilities."  

Shortly thereafter, DOE staff at Savannah River Site (SRS) advised Georgia that SRS had requested of DOE headquarters (DOE-HQ) "approval to develop a single overall program on environmental monitoring / emergency response at SRS with SC AND GA."

1993

DOE and the State of Georgia ultimately entered into an Agreement in Principle (AIP) for environmental monitoring and emergency preparedness related to SRS.

2000

Governor Roy Barnes requests additional funding to support the environmental monitoring program to Georgia in a letter dated June 3.
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson replies in a letter of August 9 that the DOE supports the program and will increase funding “to support Georgia’s environmental responsibilities” and “to support Georgia’s health, safety, and environmental assessments of the Savannah River Site.” Secretary Richardson offers an increase in monies and acknowledges that Governor Barnes requested additional tritium studies be done and funded by DOE.

2003 – October/November

Sonny Perdue is now Governor of Georgia. SRS (DOE) informed Georgia's Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in October and November of 2003 that their funding would be terminated for this sampling, testing and monitoring program.   SRS staff member, Mr. Donnie Campbell who worked under the direction of SRS Site Manager, Jeffrey Allison wrote a letter dated November 3, 2003 to Georgia EPD's Harold F. Reheis informing Mr. Reheis that DOE was terminating grant DE-FG09-01SR22204 to GDNR's EPD for offsite environmental radiation monitoring and radiological emergency response efforts related to Savannah River Site (SRS). 
A telephone call from SRS to EPD's Jim Hardeman made on October 16, 2003 (two to three weeks earlier) confirmed this development.
EPD Chief James L. Setser wrote to SRS Manager Jeffrey Allison on November 10, 2003 and was noticeably upset over this termination. He strongly urged Manager Allison to reconsider the decision to end this ten year partnership between the federal government (DOE) and SRS with the State of Georgia (DNR and EPD).  Copies of this letter penned by Setser were sent to Secretary Spencer Abraham, Governor Sonny Perdue, and Commissioner Lonice Barrett.

2003 – December

Certain members of the environmental community became aware of this termination of monitoring in December of 2003. Georgia WAND (then Atlanta WAND) began a grassroots campaign that month to support GA EPD and to have these federal monies reinstated.  Georgia WAND spear-headed letter writing campaigns to encourage Governor Perdue to fight for this money.

2004 – March

Georgia WAND went to Washington DC as members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and asked South Carolina’s Representative Clyburn's office to help Georgia receive its fair share of monitoring dollars from DOE. Jim Clyburn worked with the then ailing Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia's 10th District to find money to keep the program alive. Representative Norwood (now deceased) was able to find money through his position on Appropriations (some $300,000) to keep the program going through 2004. Those were the last federal dollars allocated to fund this environmental monitoring program.
HOWEVER…
DOE's FY-2004 and FY 2005 budget requests to Congress
These budget requests stated this: "Funding to the States of South Carolina AND Georgia provides for independent environmental monitoring and emergency management activities under either an Agreement in Principle or grant. Independent State monitoring and emergency management activities verify Savannah River Site in reporting results and supports public awareness for their off-site risks from SRS operations to stakeholders."
Through a FOIA request we were able to verify that the DOE had been reporting to Congress from 2004 to 2010 that the funding coming to them was for South Carolina AND Georgia when in fact Georgia had been zeroed out by DOE since the beginning of 2004.  In effect Congress had been told that Georgia was receiving funding for environmental monitoring when, in fact, this was untrue.  
If Georgia had been getting, minimally, what the state had received during the last grant cycle which was $1.89 million for the last three-year period from 2000 through 2003 (up to 2004) it could be said that Georgia lost over $5 million. ($630,000 per year for 8 years). As of September 29, 2011, our state of Georgia has not received DOE monies to reinstate the program that was cut in 2003.

 2004 – Summer

Georgia WAND turned to Georgia EPD Director Carol Couch for help. She had been appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in October of 2003. Bobbie Paul talked with Director Couch and encouraged her to apply for renewed funding from DOE even though Dr. Couch was unenthusiastic about the chances of DOE responding positively. Paul explained that the state had to apply in order for citizens to continue pressing DOE to fund our state. (She did apply and Georgia WAND subsequently found out - through DOE - that this funding request was rejected by DOE.)  We sought help from our Congressional offices but nothing firm developed in the way of appropriated funds.

2005 – 2008

Georgia WAND tried to garner support for this funding intermittently with our Congressional delegation and with various DOE officials. We spoke at the Citizens Advisory Board meetings (CAB) and pleased for the CAB to weigh in on this since it was supposed to be representative of both Georgia and South Carolina concerns with SRS. No action came from these appeals. Essentially we lost hope and turned our energies to other environmental issues at SRS. Occasionally, we would have a Letter to the Editor posted in the Augusta Chronicle raising this issue.

2009 – June

Dr. Ines Triay, appointed EM-1 or Assistant Secretary of the DOE under Stephen Chu planned to visit all DOE sties. In June of 2009, Dr. Triay visited the SRS site and held a public meeting with area stakeholders in North Augusta, SC.  Georgia WAND staff and local members were present in the audience and asked Director Triay if it might be possible to restore the environmental monitoring to Georgia, under her watch.  She was surprised that Georgia did not have it and told our members to get with "her people" at SRS and DOE-HQ to make it happen. SRS Site Manager Jeffrey Allison stood next to her at that meeting and did not answer questions about this Georgia monitoring except for saying that some monitoring was done near Savannah.  

June 25, 2009

Bobbie Paul, Georgia WAND Executive Director, visited DOE-HQ in DC to confirm details and past history with DOE's Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator Dave Borak and his boss, Mike Moore. (202) 586-9928 – Borak’s # in DC.

July 6, 2009

Bobbie Paul received an email from David Borak confirming all information Bobbie Paul shared with him in his DC office on June 25, 2009.  Suggests that Paul call David Hoel at SRS (to follow up.   Borak says that Hoel informed him that the SRS Site was "currently evaluating the needs for monitoring funding for the state of Georgia. They hope to report this information to the site manager at some point in the near future on this."

July 10, 2009

Bobbie Paul faxed Dave Borak historical support materials such as November 3, 2003 letter from James L Setser to Jeffrey Allison, SRS Site Manager.
Bobbie Paul called David Hoel at SRS a week later, left him a voice message asking to connect on this issue, and then left for vacation.  David Hoel called Georgia WAND while Paul was out of town and spoke with Amanda Hill-Attkisson, Managing Director, briefly.  

August 5 and August 6, 2009

Bobbie Paul tried to call David Hoel again at SRS and leaves voice messages. No return call.

Bobbie Paul called David Borak to say that there had been no movement in the issue dealing with Hoel and SRS. Borak had recommended to Paul that she deal directly with the SRS folks since DOE-HQ preferred for the sites to handle all contractual agreements but that, if there was a problem, DOE-HQ would step in.

October 6, 2009

Paul and a Georgia WAND delegation visited the offices of Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) to seek help on this monitoring issue.  No movement on the issue. 

January - February, 2010

Georgia WAND seeks information about past years’ funding from DOE to South Carolina during the time period that Georgia had been cut (2004 to 2010).  Georgia WAND discovers through FOIA that reports submitted to Congress on the “environmental monitoring and emergency management activities by the States of South Carolina and Georgia under an Agreement in Principle...” continue to be reported although Georgia has been zeroed out since 2003-2004.  Georgia WAND ponders going to Inspector General’s office but decides not to since Assistant Secretary Triay continues to support reinstatement of the program.

March 1, 2010

Georgia WAND Nuclear Committee meets at Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church in the community of Shell Bluff to discuss lack of monitoring with residents and Georgia WAND members who reside in Burke County.  Press attends.

March 10, 2010

GeorgiaWAND Executive Director, Bobbie Paul, sends letter to Assistant Director Triay asking to meet with her when she and other Georgia WAND members will be in DC (March 13-20) to discuss her stated intention to restore monitoring funds to Georgia.  In letter, Paul reviews situation of past 10 months reporting little to no movement to put monitoring in place.

March 14, 2010

CNN reporter Jessi Joseph flies to Washington to film Georgia WAND member and resident, of Shell Bluff/Waynesboro, Annie Laura Stephens, on Capitol Hill as she attempts to secure funding for her community in Burke County. Georgia WAND meets with Georgia Rep. John Barrow and John Lewis about the lack of monitoring.
Annie Laura Stephens and Bobbie Paul meet with Dr. Triay at DOE-HQ as part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s DC Days. At that meeting, Dr. Triay recommits her promise to re-institute the lapsed Georgia monitoring program - independent of SRS directives - and instructs her staff to facilitate implementation. Bobbie Paul and Ms. Stephens also meet with Charles Lee, head of Environmental Justice at EPA.

March 16, 2010

Georgia WAND members Betsy Rivard, Dianne Valentin and Bobbie Paul meet with Frank Marcinowski of Dr Triay’s staff in Marcinowski’s office to go over details of the agreement between Georgia and DOE-HQ and SRS. At this time Jeffrey Allison has left SRS as Site Manager and Jack Craig is the newly appointed Site Manager. At issue seems to be how this program will actually be re-funded. Bobbie Paul points out to Mr. Marcinowski that reports to Congress indicate, wrongly, that South Carolina AND Georgia are both being funded but that Georgia is not receiving any funds. (SR-0101 in the Congressional Budget reports from 2005-2010)Paul points out that Georgia has not received about $5 million since the funded stopped in 2003-2004.

Late March/Early April 2010

CNN crew comes to Shell Bluff to live for 24-hours to explore elevated cancer rates in the area, lack of monitoring, and community’s fears.  Abby Boudreaux is CNN’s on camera reporter/interviewer.
Bobbie Paul gets call from Frank Marcinowski informing her that DOE will restore monitoring monies and that the State of Georgia will be the recipient.  Bobbie expresses thanks and reconfirms with him that this will be independent of SRS.

April 13, 2010

Georgia WAND issues a Press Release announcing:  “DOE to restore funding to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division for Radiation Surveillance along the Savannah River, ending 6 year hiatus.”
DOE-SRS issues a Press Release same day stating: “DOE Announces Intention to Offer State of Georgia Additional Environmental Monitoring Funds.”

April 19, 2010

CNN begins airing 5-minute piece on Shell Bluff that is heavily focused on the health issues in Burke County, the community of Shell Bluff, and the lack of monitoring and fear that exists in the community.  At the close of the report Abby Boudreaux reports that she has just found out that DOE funded monitoring is supposed to be re-instated soon.

May 2010

Georgia EPD submits Scope of Work proposal for DOE funding to DOE and SRS.

August 2010

After hearing no response to the Scope of Work proposal, GA EPD is informed by SRS contract staff that DOE will not fund real-time monitoring and other elements of the Georgia proposal.

September 2010 - February 2011

EPD continues to re-submit proposal adjustments to DOE.  Funding amounts are challenged.  

January 6, 2011

Georgia WAND Board member Dianne Valentin brings up monitoring concerns as she represents Georgia WAND on a panel speaking to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.  Bobbie Paul and Ms. Valentin meet new SRS Site Manager David Moody. Moody claims his hands are tied and that they cannot fund Georgia because the monitoring program is now considered a “New Proposal” and that, under federal law governing a “continuing resolution” or CR budget, no new programs can be funded.  Paul informs Moody that this could well be considered an ongoing project since SRS-DOE has been reporting, falsely, to Congress that Georgia HAS been receiving money continuously all this when, in fact, the state of Georgia had been zeroed out since 2004.  Moody encourages Paul to send him any documents that might help him fund Georgia.  

January 23 & 24, 2011

Georgia WAND board member Dianne Valentin and Executive Director, Bobbie Paul attend Citizen’s Advisory Board (CAB) meeting in Hilton Head, South Carolina and plead with CAB members from both Georgia and South Carolina to restore what is rightfully due to the citizens of Georgia. SRS Site Manager Moody is present and offers no assistance. Moody tells Paul that his legal team is looking into DOE’s false reporting to Congress. SRS longtime staffer David Hoel tells Bobbie Paul that he believes that Georgia monitoring is not needed and is “redundant.”

February 2011

According to EPD Director Allen Barnes, SRS contracts manager Helen Belencen visits EPD Atlanta office and promises Director Barnes $700,000 for the monitoring program and a final contract in one month’s time.

March 2011

No movement on program.

April 4, 2011

Amanda Hill-Attkisson, Managing Director at Georgia WAND, and Annie Laura Stephens of Shell Bluff meet with Dr. Triay in her DC office at Headquarters to report lack of progress since she last met with Georgia WAND over a year ago. Dr Triay gives three directives:
1) DOE/SRS and GA/EPD are to send Georgia WAND the Scope of Work within one week for Georgia WAND to review.
2) Contract for Scope of work is to be set a period for five years.
3) Process should be implemented as soon as the Continuing Resolution issue (CR) was resolved by Congress.

April 27, 2011

Newly revised Scope of work done by Georgia EPD and SRS is sent to Georgia WAND. Georgia WAND reviews it and finds it deficient due to lack of support for real-time monitoring as ordered by SRS/DOE.

May 18, 2011

Bobbie Paul writes to Dr. Triay asking that SRS/DOE support for real time monitoring and community based monitoring as initially proposed by Georgia’s EPD. Paul asks Dr. Triay to make good on her promise to keep Georgia monitoring independent of SRS meddling and points out other instances of DOE utilizing real-time monitoring technologies.

June 2011

No movement on contract between DOE and GA EPD.

July, 2011

Bobbie Paul meets in DC with DOE-HQ Frank Marcinowski and staffer Dave Borak and SRS contract negotiator Helen Belencen. Marcinowski informs Paul that DOE is now only offering $300,000 to re-start the Georgia monitoring program (less than half of what the program received annually when the program funding was cut in 2003 - $630,000).

July, 2011

Helen Belencen challenges the merits of Georgia’s proposal. Paul tells Frank that this is the problem: SRS continues to deny Georgia independence on the monitoring program. Frank agrees with Paul and tells Helen that Georgia EPD has DOE’s approval to do what it wants with the money.

Late July 2011

Frank emails Bobbie Paul that it might be easier to have Georgia go through the Consolidated Business Center (CBC) bypassing SRS and personnel issues. Paul responds that this sounds like a viable solution.

August 2011

Nothing moves forward. Paul calls Dave Borak in DOE-HQ to investigate. Borak reports that CBC claims that Georgia EPD’s Dorlayn Kirkland is not willing to submit more re-writes to proposal and that they have lost faith in the process and their ability to mount a credible program with such minimal funds.  Process stalls once again

September 2011

Georgia WAND discovers that the funding process is worsening with the CBC instead of getting better.  As the end of FY 2011 nears, the promise of Georgia receiving funds becomes more remote. Paul visits Congressional offices on Capitol Hill and asks Charlie Harman, Chief of Staff in Senator Chambliss’ office to step in on behalf of the state of Georgia.

September 2011

Senator Chambliss’ office offers to call Georgia EPD Director Barnes.

September 2011

Georgia WAND calls for an October 4 Press Conference to inform public about the  breakdown of this process to provide environmental sampling, testing, and overall monitoring of radionuclide emissions from SRS that may be impacting Georgia, especially Burke County residents living directly downwind and downstream of SRS.

September 30, 2011

Bobbie Paul attends Community Leaders Briefing at the White House and asks Jon Carson from the Administration to help Georgia.

October 3, 2011

Jon Carson emails Bobbie Paul, putting her in touch with Matt Kasdan, Council on Environmental Quality. . Matt Kasdan emails Bobbie Paul and offers to call her to put her in touch with “the right people’” from DOE.

October 4, 2011

Georgia WAND holds Press Conference at Georgia State Capitol to inform the public of the current monitoring funding situation.

December 2011

EPD Director Allen Barnes resigns and is replaced by Governor Nathan Deal appointee Judson Turner.

­January 17, 2012

Georgia WAND Executive Director, Bobbie Paul visits with David Borak at DOE-HQ to discuss environmental monitoring and to question when the check to Georgia EPD might be arriving. Borak informs Paul that EM is being less responsive to environmental community concerns.

Late January 2012

Georgia WAND is informed by DOE’s Dave Borak that the monitoring money will not be coming to Geogria. It was cancelled.

February 1, 2012

Georgia WAND sends out press release decrying DOE’s cancellation of Georgia monitoring.

February 7, 2012

Georgia WAND Board President Dianne Valentin and Executive Director Bobbie Paul meet with newly appointed EPD Director Judd Turner and Assistant Director Jim Ussery to confer with them on the monitoring issue and restate Georgia WAND’s commitment to pursuing this matter further.

March 19-21,2012

Georgia delegations meet with legislators in Washington DC to ask for their support to reinstate this critical funding to our state.

March 20, 2012

Georgia WAND Public Outreach Director Courtney Hanson and a delegation from Alliance for Nuclear Accountability meet with David Huizenga, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Environmental Management. Hanson asks why monitoring funds were cut and if Huizenga planned to reinstate the money. Huizenga said that budget constraints meant that it was unlikely Georgia would receive monitoring funds.