Silentdisaster.org, a citizens group, in and around south Georgia, concerned with the health problems caused by toxic chemical releases in our neighborhoods are committed to ensuring corporate responsibility in reducing public exposure. Our community group represents over 3,500 members concerned with the lingering toxic chemicals from RCRA Sites, a Superfund Site, and other industries.
While our group membership is large, getting active participation has been difficult. It is important to the group and we have relied on Citizen Science as a mechanism to increase interest in the health of the environment and educate the public at large.
Location Situated in rural South Georgia – Waycross’s industrial sites are located close to in-town neighborhoods. Many sites are drained by intermittent streams that flow through the city to Tebeau Creek and ultimately the Satilla River. Fish caught from the Satilla - with redbreast sunfish (known by locals as “redbellies”), crackers, gills, and stumpknockers being the most popular catches – are threatened by mercury contamination originating from the waste site. The topography of the area is unique given its proximity to the Okefenokee Swamp – the sandy soil is often saturated with water, contributing to an expansive network of canals. These drainage ways offer multiple avenues for residents to come in contact with contaminated soil, water, and air.
In creeks and park, a toxic stew exists that includes arsenic, mercury, benzene, radiation, and a host of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that cause cancer. With public water supply wells located within a half mile of the site, contamination of well water also remains a concern. Soil samples taken from an area down town showed elevated levels of PAHs, including benzo(a)pyrene, benzo anthracene and benzo flouranthene - three PAHs that the EPA believes can cause cancer.
Meanwhile, air quality has become an issue as more industries producing heavy air pollutants and use contaminated groundwater in industrial processes increasing the toxic load of residents.