Camden County Keeps Local Residents in the Dark about Spaceport Risks
Georgia Conservation Groups File Suit against County, Consultants for Withholding Key Documents
WOODBINE, GA—Georgia conservation groups and concerned residents are demanding answers from Camden County and Spaceport Camden consultants, charging that unlawfully withholding documents concerning public safety and environmental impacts leaves local communities in the dark about the project’s potential dangers to local families and sensitive ecosystems.
On behalf of One Hundred Miles, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit today in Camden County Superior Court against the County and Spaceport Camden consultants Andrew Nelson and The Aerospace Corporation for failing to meet requirements under the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA).
After refusing to grant repeated requests for specific documents, including debris field maps and an analysis estimating the number of human deaths that could occur if a rocket explodes on the launch pad or in the air, Camden County has continued to push Spaceport Camden forward. Without releasing any of the requested public safety information, the Camden County Commission submitted an application with the Federal Aviation Administration in late January for an operator license required to conduct orbital and suborbital launches at the proposed commercial spaceport.
“Officials elected to the office of County Commission are acting as if they are not accountable to the public,” said Ben Goff, a resident of Kingsland. “It appears they are constantly looking for more ways to conceal information relevant to the health and safety of their own constituents--this has to stop.”
“The proposed spaceport has distracted our elected officials from what is truly important in Camden County--our quality of life,” said Janet Heath, a resident of Woodbine. “Spaceport Camden has already bled us of $6 million and promises to saddle future generations with millions more in debt, all to the detriment of funding for local essential services, including the Woodbine Public Library. It’s time for our elected officials to own up to the misdirected efforts of this project and allocate funding so that Camden residents get the services they need.”
“Citizens make good decisions only when those in leadership give them truthful, complete information,” said Jackie Eichorn, a resident of Harriet’s Bluff. “As citizens of Camden County, our leaders have denied us lawful transparency since 2015 by shrouding critical details in secrecy and inaccurate information to advance Spaceport Camden, a project that leaves us with more questions than answers.”
“While we have long been concerned that this project poses serious threats to public health and the local economy of Camden County, the lack of transparency about the real risks of Spaceport Camden only deepens those concerns,” said Megan Desrosiers, Executive Director of One Hundred Miles. “The notion that coastal communities can and should accept that rockets will be launched over one of the most economically and ecologically important areas for the state of Georgia without knowing exactly what those risks look like is absurd.”
“Camden County’s refusal to provide public records about the potential dangers of launching rockets is mindboggling,” said April Lipscomb, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Georgia office. “Asking local residents to blindly accept the potentially life-changing conditions of Spaceport Camden without providing them with all of the facts is reckless and unfair.”
About One Hundred Miles: One Hundred Miles is a coastal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the 100-mile Georgia coast. One Hundred Miles seeks to bring statewide attention to the opportunities and challenges facing Georgia’s unique coast. www.onehundredmiles.org
About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org