Atlantic Beach city leaders pass resolution calling for end to coal ash shipments

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Atlantic Beach city leaders on Monday night unanimously passed a resolution calling for an end to coal-ash shipments into Jacksonville.

The News4Jax I-TEAM has been covering this situation for months, after a barge hit the jetties in March, spilling thousands of tons of coal ash into the ocean.

The product itself is called Agremax. Not only does this resolution call for it to stop being shipped here, it also calls for local ports to stop accepting it. City leaders say they want to send a strong message.

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This past March, 9,300 tons of it were spilled into the ocean. An accident that resulted in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection fining the companies involved $38,000.

Quinton White, JU’s executive director of marine research, spoke during the meeting, saying it could have been much worse.

“We thought dumping eight to 12,000 tons of this material on the ocean floor would smother the bottom as it was. Because of the storm and the way it worked we didn’t see that kind of impact,” White said. “The trouble is, samples were not done immediately. It took two weeks for the state to get mobilized to do this.”

At that point, White said, investigators found no concentration.

“What we don’t know is what happened to the material once it got dissipated,” White said.

Even though this resolution is nonbinding, Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser says she hopes this will send a message.

”I hope it gets some attention,” Glasser said. “It may be symbolic in nature. A lot of it comes down to how it’s classified by the EPA.”

The Jacksonville Waterways Commission also recently approved a resolution calling for an end to coal ash shipments, pointing out that Puerto Rico and Osceola County have both banned the ash from being dumped in their landfills, even though the Agremax product is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as nonhazardous.

Even though the ocean water test results revealed there wasn’t any apparent environmental risk, Mayor Glasser believes there is still a measure of responsibility to consider.

The resolution takes immediate effect.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.