The Fight to Stop the Southwest Georgia Oil Company's Mega Gas Station Above Chip’s Hole - a victory, but it's not over
Overwhelming opposition changed the course of a gas company's plans
Southwest Georgia Oil Company applied for a comprehensive plan amendment and zoning change that would allow the construction of a mega-gas station above the Chip’s Hole cave system that leads directly to Wakulla Springs.
The Wakulla County Commission was set to approve the change at their meeting on August 7, 2023. But in sweltering 100 degree heat, over 400 people showed up to oppose the move.
Over 2,000 emails were sent to commissioners by Springs Advocates through Florida Springs Council's system, with even more opposition rallied across the state by partnering groups like Sierra Club Florida, Progress Florida, Florida Wildlife Federation, and of course the local group at the front lines, The Downriver Project (Clean Water Wakulla).
Applause erupted in the crowd when the commission announced that they would push the pause button on the comprehensive plan and zoning change.
This is what it looks like when citizens, organizations and advocates show up in force to defend Florida's special places! Thank you do EVERYONE who was involved.
The delay gives us all more time to find a solution, including finding state funds to purchase the land. Stay involved, as this issue continues to develop!
Read "Sweltering standoff with Wakulla Commission over gas station leads to hope for springs" by James Call, Tallahassee Democrat at https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2023/08/08/wakulla-county-hopes-forever-florida-can-end-pauses-gas-station-plans-and-seek-state-money-to-buy-la/70542082007/
A major leak or catastrophic failure would destroy Wakulla Springs & River, decimate the local economy, and contaminate the drinking water. Even routine leaks and spills could damage the delicate system.
The wrong location - The proposed site sits directly on top of one the most well mapped-underwater cave systems on earth. Earlier this year, a team of divers discovered a direct connection between Chip’s Hole and Wakulla Springs after twenty-five years of exploration. The cave system increases the potential for a catastrophic collapse and the impact of any leaks or spills on the springs.
The wrong company - Southwest Georgia Oil has a long history of polluting Florida’s waters.
They are listed as the responsible party for multiple contaminated sites across Florida and were found liable for gross negligence in Wakulla Station, where 27,000 cubic feet of soil had to be removed.
This is Southwest Georgia Oil’s second attempt to get a comprehensive plan amendment on the property.
The first attempt was stopped by County Commissioner Chuck Hess and local advocates who demanded the County ensure that strong safeguards were in place to protect Wakulla Springs and drinking water.
When the County failed to pass the promised protections, local advocates took it upon themselves to draft a Citizens’ Springs Protection Ordinance and present it to the County Commission. The Commissioners callously refused to even allow debate on the Citizen’s Ordinance, enraging those in attendance.
The people of Wakulla County and our precious springs should not be jeopardized to bail out one corporation’s bad investment.
“A majority of Wakulla Commissioners appear hellbent on allowing a gas station to be built over a vital, precious and fragile underwater cave system that feeds Wakulla Springs. To be honest, I just don’t get it. Why is this being ramrodded through, ignoring the clear will of Wakulla residents and Friends of Wakulla Springs, who showed up by the dozens to oppose the deal at the last commission meeting?” - Former DEP Secretary Colleen Castille