Toxic waters lurk beneath Port of St. Marys proposal
A developer is planning to build a barge port at the former Gilman Paper Mill site along the St. Marys River across from Cumberland Island. The plans call for a barge dock and ship berths along with railroad facilities. Regular dredging would likely be required for the St. Marys River, which would have a significant and lasting impact on aquatic life.
The 700-acre site is contaminated with a toxic legacy of carcinogens and heavy metals, including chromium, barium, vanadium, polychlorinated biphenyl, and mercury. If the port is constructed, these toxic chemicals would be released downstream into the waters surrounding Cumberland Island.
Developer Chris Ragucci has not offered any information about clean-up plans. His company Port of St. Marys LLC has applied for a zoning change that would help move the port proposal forward.
Please encourage the City of St. Marys to require that a comprehensive clean-up proposal be submitted by developers and vetted by experts before the site can be considered for rezoning. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers will also be involved in approving or denying the proposed port, which would be Georgia’s third deepwater port.