Georgia Supreme Court decision related to a voter referendum in Camden County v. Judge Robert Sweatt went in the favor of the public which is a big step for us!.
But there are other pieces of litigation pending, too:
Camden has sued Union Carbide Corporation for breach of contract in Camden County v. Union Carbide;
Related to the issuance of a launch site operators license in 2021 is National Parks Conservation Association et. al. v. Federal Aviation Administration et. al.; and
There’s open records act litigation in One Hundred Miles v. Camden County, NelsonCFO, Inc., and the Aerospace Corporation.
Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) made national news when it released a statement indicating they no longer intend to sell its 4,000 acres to Camden County because voters overwhelmingly rejected the project in its special referendum.
The Board of County Commissioners insist they have a binding contract to purchase the site and filed suit against UCC on July 27.
They also issued a press release and study designed to minimize fire risks from small launch vehicles (which Spaceport Camden is currently licensed for) and medium launch vehicles (which they are NOT licensed for) to Cumberland Island. That study was completed by ARCTOS.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Camden County a license in December of 2021 to build and operate a spaceport (“Spaceport Camden”).
In response to this decision, local residents submitted petitions for a special referendum — and they were granted that opportunity in March 2022. That’s when 72% of Camden County residents voted to stop the project, overruling the commissioners’ prior vote to buy land for Spaceport Camden.
A new study verifying that US spaceports currently “not subsidized by state or federal funding are struggling to remain economically viable.”
Read the Final Record of Decision released by the FAA..
Read the Final FEIS Comments from the SELC.
The FAA has officially released the Spaceport Camden Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project website.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS!
We submitted over 5,000 comments to The CDR.
ISSUE: Damage from Failed Launches
Small rockets have a higher failure rate than the rockets evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The only publicly-released environmental documents stated a 2.5% to 6% failure rate. However, small-lift class US-licensed rockets have accumulated a 19% failure rate since 2006. Only one US rocket manufacturer has an operational small rocket. All others are in development or testing. Camden uses a hypothetical rocket in its license application calculations.
Failed rocket launches risk damaging state marshlands, shore areas, and shellfish harvest areas. Failed launches could contaminate these areas with rocket fuel and debris, and Camden County has not provided a plan to ensure that these areas are cleaned up.
The FAA advised Camden County that it believes a failed launch could cause an “uncontrollable” wildfire on Cumberland or Little Cumberland Islands.
The Georgia Historic Preservation Office recently advised the FAA that it does not have sufficient information to complete its historic preservation review, and requested additional information regarding launch failures and wildfires
ISSUE: Closing public waterways
Rocket launches will require extensive closures of public waterways including the Satilla River, St. Andrews Sound, and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Rocket launches will require extensive closures of public fishing areas including inshore/offshore, bait zones, shellfish harvest areas, and reefs.
Spaceport Camden’s License Application does not impose any limit on frequency or number of days that could be subject to these navigation restrictions.
These closures will often be made on short notice and will change each time a launch is cancelled due to weather, possibility of triggered lightning, technical difficulties, or a safety zone intrusion.
ISSUE: Use of Public Property
Camden County cannot use state-owned marshlands and the Cumberland and Satilla Rivers as blast zone buffers for launches from the site. The blast zone is the most likely area to be damaged by rocket blasts, fuel spills, and debris. The State cannot allow Camden County to use state property in this way.
It is critical that the CDNR hears from the PUBLIC and that we demand the CDNR does not limit its decision to the information provided by the FAA and Spaceport Camden.
From Chapter 5 of the GCMP:
“The General Assembly further finds that resources within this coastal area are costly, if not impossible, to reconstruct or rehabilitate once adversely affected by human-related activities and it is important to conserve these resources for the present and future enjoyment of all citizens and visitors to the state.”
Wild Cumberland has been working nonstop to help the public (and our elected officials) see the truth about Spaceport Camden.
The Southern Environmental Law Center’s recently submitted additional comments to the FAA on behalf of conservation organizations including Wild Cumberland, One Hundred Miles, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Satilla Riverkeeper.
Read the latest comments below or view PDF here.
SEND A MESSAGE TO GOV. KEMP
Use the form below to send your opposition of Spaceport Camden directly to Gov. Kemp’s Office
We’re often contacted by visitors who have witnessed damage to the island’s ecosystem, or blatant disregard of policy protections. We encourage you to report these to the National Park Service and also complete this form.
Thank you for your respectful stewardship of Cumberland Island.