Environmental Group challenges the SFWMD permit for Briger Forest

Reposted from Scrapscripps.info

On April 9th 2014, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) released it’s draft Permit approval for the modifications to the Florida Scripps Phase II/Briger project’s Environmental Resource Permit. THIS IS GO TIME. This is the moment, THE PERMIT we have anticipating for years. Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition is calling on all of the people who live within the vicinity of the Briger Tract to contact us immediately if you want to join us in our petition for administrative hearing challenging the approval of this permit. Below is the initial submission to the SFWMD.

XXXXX

REQUEST FOR ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING

To: South Florida Water Management District
Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District
359 Hiatt Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Anita Bain
Juanita Addie, Deputy Clerk
Christine Madsen Regulatory Specialist 3 Regulation Division (MSC 9610)
Phone: (561) 682-6696 EMail:cmadsen@sfwmd.gov
From: Rachel Kijewski
Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
 

To the concerned parties in the South Florida Water Management District,

I am writing to request a petition for administrative hearing regarding the above mentioned permits and applications. I received notice on April 10th that your agency was recommending approval of the permits mentioned above. You have failed to address the concerns brought up in the prior administrative hearing from Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition; have failed to provide documentation proving there will be no significant impact to water quality and refused to look at this on a cumulative impacts perspective which is irresponsible for the fate of the everglades bio-region. On behalf of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, I am requesting you revoke the permit, and move towards preservation measures of the whole 681.54 to move towards true Everglades restoration practices.

PBCEC has fought this issue for five years. We filed an initial administrative petition on June 3, 2010 (attached). This petition was filed by several members of the PBCEC. We have attended Palm Beach Gardens Commission meetings and made recommendations against the project moving forward. We have held several rallies near the site to voice our disapproval of the destruction of the Briger Forest. We held a rally in downtown WPB in May of 2013, in front of Kolter Industries. PBCEC has done extensive research into the wildlife impacts to the Briger Forest… please see our “Impact to Listed Species” (attached). We also filed a letter of intent to sue against the Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers, with the law firm of Myer Glitzenstein and Crystal on September 18th, 2013. Our interest has been demonstrated through the years of opposition to this project.

Still No Hazardous Waste Management Plan

Regarding the prior administrative hearing, you made adjustments to the previous permit ensuring a hazardous waste management plan must be provided in order to approve the permit. There is no such plan attached to the permit. The Scripps Research Institute of Florida across from the Briger Tract already tests on dangerous viruses and bacterias, uses radioactive substances, tests on countless mice and flies, and will be testing on dogs, cats, and even primates if Phase II opens its doors. With families within the planned development and families/individuals already living around the development, it is irresponsible to not provide this as public information and require it before approval of your permit. Furthermore, this sort of testing should rather be a cause to deny the permit, as accidents and improper handling of this hazardous waste is inevitable and will impact water/land/life quality. Enclosed is the document with the modifications requiring the hazardous waste plan to be a part of the application and below is the quote from the document on page 4 of the Special Conditions:

Special Condition # 31.

At the time of application for construction the permittee shall submit a Hazardous Waste Management Plan. In addition, the permittee shall obtain any necessary permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for treating, storing or disposing of hazardous waste.

~Signed and dated by Anita Bain and Anthony M. Waterhouse, P.E. On May 4th 2010.

Also who will be monitoring Scripps as to what chemicals or radioactive substances they use and where they are disposed of? Since it is not mentioned it is unclear which agency is responsible.

Suki deJong received 2 phone calls from a man named Scott who was an employee of Scripps Biotech at the time (about 3 years ago). The following is a statement from Suki:

This man knew that the PBCEC was fighting the construction of Scripps and wanted to give some information that he thought would be helpful. He said that they were a pretty unscrupulous employer. During that first phone call, we were interrupted by someone coming into his office and he had to hang up. He called me back within a few days. He was very concerned that he not be identified and I assured him he would not. At this point he divulged that the radioactive dumping spot in Jupiter regulations was not always adhered to. He then stated that he had seen employees pour radioactive material down the drain. I was shocked and asked him if he was sure. He was.”

DRI Status

This project is not a DRI.” -pg 12 of 131119-5 DrftStaffrpt.pd.

This project had a full Development of Regional Impact analysis done regaring water, wildlife, soil quality etc. before the conceptual Environmental Resource Permit was approved by the SFWMD in 2010. Please clarify what “This project is not a DRI” means and I still state and stand that the DRI was not enough, that the project needed a Environmental Impact Statement.

DEO/CZM Consistency Review:

What proof was provided that the issuance of this permit constitutes a finding of consistency with the Florida Coastal Management Program. In the appellate hearing with the judge in 2010, it was demonstrated that the agencies have to collaborate in some way together to prove this, but there was no actual proof of this collaboration, nor clear responsibility as to which agency must do analysis. Please provide proof that an agency or multiple agencies was/were responsible for doing some sort of analysis or study to prove that the project is consistent with the Florida Coastal Management Program. Also it was stated in the response to the petition that the approval of this permit is not contrary to public interest, where we have over 300 people that signed a petition demanding that the project be rejected and turned into a preserve for the public.

Cumulative Impact Assessment and Impact to Listed Species

Due to the cumulative impacts of it with other surrounding projects and it’s importance to wildlife including state and federally protected and listed wildlife species an Environmental Impact Statement should be done before continuing with the project. In a prior application SFWMD said you would do what you could to protect the Federally Endangered Eastern Indigo Snake. Below is the quote from the document on page 4 of the Special Conditions:

Special Condition #29 is added as follows:

29. The permittee shall adhere to the provisions in Exhibit 6.0 Standard Protection Measure for the Eastern Indigo Snake.

~Signed and dated by Anita Bain and Anthony M. Waterhouse, P.E. On May 4th 2010.

According to the Biological Opinion from the Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers there are an estimated 6 Eastern Indigo Snakes on the property. Attached is our Notice Letter of Intent to Sue filed in November of 2013 which got a response from the FWS acknowledging their inability to provide any plan for the EIS they expect to be on the property violating the Endangered Species Act. The South Florida Water Management District is not exempt from the Endangered Species Act and if approves the project will also be in violation of this federal act by approving the extermination of Eastern Indigo Snakes on the propery without having any plan for them as well as destroying 681.54 acres of Core Foraging Area of a Wood stork rookery.

SFWMD also committed to making a plan for the other endangered and threatened species on the such such as the hand fern and gopher tortoise, but that is listed nowhere in the permit. Please response back with SFWMD’s plan or other agencies plan for these and other listed species on the site.

Due to these concerns and others we do not feel that the permit is complete nor should it be approved.

Sincerely,
Rachel Kijewski
Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
 
1.  Permit # 50-00610-24
Application No. 131119-5 ERP NPBCID Unit 2X Phase 1
Application No. 131216-7 ERP NPBCID Unit 2C Neighborhood 1
Permit No. 50-10511-W, Application No. 140212-1 CUP NPBCID Unit 2C Phase 1
Permit No. 50-10483-W, Application No. 140211-13 CUP NPBCID Unit 2C Phase 1
Permit No. 50-10505-W, Application No. 140321016 CUP NPBCID Unit 2C Neighborhood 1
2.  Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (aka PBCEC)
3.  PBCEC received the notice of decision by email Regulation@SFWMD.gov
on April 10, 2014.
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