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Don’t Mine Near the Okefenokee

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By a 10-year-old 5th grader! Kudos to her.

The Okefenokee Swamp is in south Georgia and is the largest black water swamp in North America. It is a great place to visit if there is not a company building a mine next to it. There is this company that has decided to build a mine next to the swamp in order to get Titanium Dioxide – for white paint and toothpaste. This is a very bad idea in a number of ways. The first is that it could mess up the swamp. Second, to prevent flooding, the mine must be constantly pumped, which is expensive and bad for the environment. Finally, Titanium Dioxide is not really used for anything that we need.

This swamp is a great place to visit and is a big area of wildlife. This mine for titanium could disturb the swamp and could harm the swamp in many ways.  In the article “About the Okefenokee Swamp and Proposed Mine” by Science for Georgia, it states “Mining Trail Ridge will lower the water level in the Okefenokee Swamp, which will release heavy metals into the surrounding water supply, create a fire hazard, and endanger the overall ecosystem.” In the passage it said that by lowering the water level then we could release heavy metals. These heavy metals will get into the water supply that fish and people depend on. By drying out the swamp, it will be at increased risk of fire. This fire could burn down the Okefenokee. That would be really bad and can release more heavy metals and also harm nearby property and people. The article also states that “If permanently damaged, the region will lose water filtration, habitat, and economic benefits.” This would disrupt the ecosystem which could lead to the animals native to the swamp die out. 

Okay so let’s use our common sense here. If you start mining near a wet area then water will get into your mine right? This is exactly what will happen when the mining company starts mining near the Okefenokee swamp. And if they have any sort of electrical equipment that is not water proof then that would be bad because water plus electricity equals bad news. The bad news here is really bad because electricity moves through water fast so then everybody in there will be fried. Bad news right?  According to the text “About the Okefenokee Swamp and Proposed Mine” by Science for Georgia “Address the feasibility on reclamation only rebuilding to 7 to 10 feet below current ground level, but the water table is less than 7 feet below ground level.” In other words the mining company is mining 7 to 10 feet below current ground level but the water is only 7 feet down. This means that what we just talked about might happen because they are right at water level. To prevent water from getting into the mine, the mining company will install pumps to push the water into other places. This disturbs the swamp and the wildlife. 

Why did the company decide that they were going to mine for Titanium Dioxide? No idea, but Titanium Dioxide is used for sunscreens, paints, and plastics, In the article “Titanium Dioxide in Food – WebMD” According to “ Homemade Sunscreens: Can You Make One That Is Safe” you need coconut oil, powdered zinc oxide, aloe vera gel, and shea butter. That does not say titanium dioxide in there so we don’t need it for sunscreen. Let’s see about paints. According to the article “Homemade Paint | How to Make Paint – TinkerLab” you need flour, water, salt and coloring to make basic paint. No Titanium Dioxide there. How about plastics. According to the article, “How Are Plastics Made?” You need raw materials like natural gas, oils or plants to make plastics. So we could make all of these things with the Titanium Dioxide that we mine out of the swamp or we could make them without using Titanium Dioxide. Also do we need to be risking places like the Okefenokee swamp just to get things like paint or sunscreen that can be made out of other things? No, we really don’t use Titanium Dioxide for anything that is important and that needs Titanium dioxide as a main ingredient or any ingredient at all. So why don’t we just not mine near the Okefenokee swamp? Okay good idea. 

 Now that I have told you that mining near the Okefenokee is bad because it could really mess up the swamp, pumping can harm it further and It is easy to find in many other places, and we don’t use it for anything important and all of the things that we make out of it can be made out of other things. The reasons to mine are confusing and weird and don’t make sense. It is important to make sure the Okefenokee does not become an example of what happens when you mine near wetlands.

TAKE ACTION

Please write your legislator about HB 1289 which would protect the swamp from this and future mines. 

Learn More About the Okefenokee Here.

Open Letter from the Science Community about Proposed Mining Near the Okefenokee Swamp

Watch a Documentary about the Okefenokee Swamp

Watch a ST&T about the Okefenokee Swamp

Updated on February 15, 2022

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