Commentary: It’s Nassau’s River Also. Pay Attention!

By Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper

On February 9, 2024, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) opened a 60-day public comment for a proposed titanium dioxide mine located on Trail Ridge, 3 miles from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and 5 miles from the St. Marys River. The three permits open for public comment are Air Quality, Groundwater Withdrawal, and Surface Mining. This mine is positioned on the hydrologic divide of the ridge with impacts to the St. Marys River both from its headwaters source to the west and the main stem to the east. Public comment closes April 9.

EPD is hosting a virtual public meeting to provide an opportunity for attendees to make verbal comments on the draft permits. A short presentation on the draft permits will precede each public meeting. Participants are asked to limit their comments to no more than two minutes. The virtual public meeting will be held on March 5, 2024 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada), and will be conducted using Zoom, a free web-based video conferencing tool that also allows participation by phone (dial-in). The Zoom webinar format has a maximum attendance of 1,000 participants and there is a possibility that the meeting will reach capacity for attendance and comments. You can register for the public hearing at or at

St. Marys Riverkeeper is currently drafting our public comment opposing both the Surface Mining and Groundwater withdrawal permits and will provide these to the public for review once they are complete.

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) has a poor record for environmental stewardship in Georgia and Florida, all initiating legal action against the company during the past six years. While processing tailings at two of the four Chemours titanium mines on Trail Ridge in north Florida, TPM spilled wastewater during Hurricane Irma. Because of that and other infractions, TPM is still under a Florida Consent Order. As a result of their prior experience, there is an expectation for a Land Use Plan that provides an outline of handling environmental catastrophes such as spills, berm breaches, and other adverse effects. In Georgia, a Clean Water Act civil suit brought against Twin Pines-affiliated companies of Georgia Renewable Power, LLC and Greenfuels Energy LLC in 2019, resulted in a $625,000 settlement for the plaintiffs. Toxins were being illegally discharged into the air and streams resulting in fish kills and compromising wetlands.

On February 27, Fish and Wildlife Service submitted a letter to Georgia lawmakers urging them to put a 10-year moratorium on mining on Trail Ridge giving scientists time to collect data and better understand how disturbances like digging could affect the hydrology of the swamp. The letter was a direct response to H.B. 1338, a piece of legislation from state Rep. John Corbett, whose district includes the swamp. The measure would bar new mining near the swamp for at least three years, through July 1, 2027. St. Marys Riverkeeper along with several conservation groups have dismissed HB 1338 as ineffective as since the current proposed mine will take four years and the company has publicly stated that they will seek mining permits for the 8,000 acres they own north of the current demonstration mine, it severely restricts judicial review and citizen appeal, is only specific to one type of mining technique, would not allow the moratorium to be extended for any reason, and is biased in favor of the mining industry.

The Okefenokee Swamp and St. Marys River belong to Georgia AND Florida. We need everyone’s voice to ensure both water systems are protected now and in the future! Save the Swamp and Protect YOUR St. Marys River.


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Alex Wood
Active Member
Alex Wood(@alex-wood)
1 month ago

Everyone that enjoys a water activity should be up in arms on this.
Please keep updates coming.

Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 month ago

Thanks, Emily, for keeping us in the loop on this vital issue. I hope lots of people from Nassau County join the discussion to oppose this ridiculous project.

Trusted Member
1 month ago

Talk is cheap. Risk is great. Alabama…

Kimberly Lewis
Kimberly Lewis(@lewiski)
1 month ago

Emily, I am always so grateful for your advocacy of the Okefenokee, and for educating us about things that we would otherwise not know about until it was too late. I was born on the island in Fernandina and now live by the St Marys River, so protecting our river system is important to me. Thank you for helping us understand the issues.

Bill Fold
Noble Member
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
1 month ago

Some politician has skin in the game otherwise this foolish idea would have never gotten off the ground, much less to the floor of the Georgia House. Shame on Twin Pines and their reckless operations!!

Noble Member
1 month ago

Just wondering if anyone has checked with the Navy Base at Kings Bay, this sounds like it might affect them as well. I know that Kings Bay is planning some major modifications to support the new Columbia Class SSBN’s, and not sure if this would impact that.

Last edited 1 month ago by WaynesBit