October 20, 2005


Georgia Operation Discharges Flow into Florida Waters

Tallahassee -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency closed an
investigation despite worker and citizen eyewitness accounts of
illegal toxic dumping without performing a single soil or water
sample, according to a review of the agency's enforcement file
released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER). Without explanation, the agency declined to investigate
reports of fouled well water, un-permitted discharge pipes into
streams and a growing cancer cluster in a rural Georgia town.

PEER is asking EPA's Office of Inspector General to reopen the case.
In addition, because the affected streams feed into Florida's Suwannee
River, and because the potential exists to contaminate the Floridan
Aquifer, which supplies North Florida's drinking water, PEER has also
asked the Florida Department of Environmental to monitor effects on
state waters.

Over the past several years, Georgia's Environmental Protection
Division has cited Coggins Farm Supply in south-central Georgia for
solid waste violations, but, until recently, has failed to demand
compliance with wastewater and hazardous waste regulations. Indeed,
the EPD has conducted only one water sample at the site -- and that
sample showed evidence of PCBs. None of the violations that were found
ever triggered even a dime in fines by the EPD. Meanwhile, the EPD
continues to "study" the situation. EPA has done nothing.

Both state and federal environmental agencies closed their files
despite knowing that -

More than 30 of the fewer than 750 residents living within four miles
of the facility have some form of cancer, with bladder cancer being
most prominent;

Residents repeatedly reported seeing milky, foul smelling liquids in
the ditches surrounding the facility.

Many residents report that they can no longer drink the local well
water; and

Wholesale dumping and burning of plastic bales contaminated with
pesticides, fungicides and herbicides have been evident even to causal

"I have never seen a more lackadaisical investigation," stated Florida
PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former enforcement attorney with
Florida DEP. "The Coggins case files read like the tale of Two Blind

One striking aspect of the Coggins case is the steady stream of
employees and residents giving consistent, reinforcing accounts of the
same events. Both agencies' failure to take any soil samples and only
one water sample is inexplicable as samples would be required to prove
that any pollution offenses occurred.

"Heaven help us if this case is at all representative of how pollution
investigations are now conducted at the state and federal levels,"
Phillips added. "These cases were shut down before they rounded first


Read the PEER white paper: Federal and State Agencies Fail to
Investigate Contamination at Agricultural Site

See the PEER letter to the EPA Office of Inspector General
requesting an investigation

Look at the request to Florida DEP for monitoring impact on state

Ph: (202) 265-7337 o Fax: (202) 265-4192 o email:

Copyright 2005