The Problems

Closing and Evacuation of Cumberland Island National Seashore

Each launch from the proposed spaceport will require the evacuation of a large portion of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. The National Park Service has expressed concern over this fact and the impact that such evacuations will have on the operation of the National Seashore and its thousands of visitors. These concerns as well as others are summarized in the National Park Service’s scoping letter to the FAA.

Photo: One Hundred Miles

Risk of Permanent Damage from Exploding Rockets on Cumberland Island National Seashore

1 in 20 rockets fail and that usually happens within the first two minutes of launch. In mere seconds, the flaming debris and unspent rocket fuel would be catastrophic to the Seashore that is densely covered with highly flammable natural fuel (vegetation).

“In the event of a catastrophic failure…Such a failure or mishap could have long term effects on the island, potential impairment to the island’s natural and cultural resources, and major consequences for enjoyment of the island by future generations…”

National Park Service Scoping Letter

Unmanned Rocket Explosions since 1986

April 18, 1986
Titan 34D-9
Vandenberg AFB
Explosion on pad after 7 seconds

May 3, 1986
Cape Canaveral
Delta 178
Explosion after 71 seconds 15 miles away

March 26, 1987
Cape Canaveral
Atlas Centaur
Explosion after 48 seconds

April 18, 1991
Cape Canaveral
Atlas Centaur
Explosion at 4:41 minutes 243 miles away

August 12, 1993
Vandenberg AFB
Titan 4
Explosion at 101 seconds

January 17, 1997
Cape Canaveral
Delta 2
22 seconds, 100 feet from launch

August 12, 1998
Cape Canaveral
Titan 4
41 seconds, 5 miles away

Aug. 27, 1998
Cape Canaveral
Delta 3
71 seconds; 10-15 miles

November 9, 2001
Kodiak STARS
Exploded at 56 seconds 17-45 miles away

January 30, 2007
Sea Launch
Exploded on pad

August 22, 2008
Wallops Island
27 seconds

August 22, 2014
McGregor, TX
Falcon 9
±18 secs

August 25, 2014
Exploded over the launch pad at 4 seconds

October 28, 2014
Wallops Island
Exploded over pad

June 28, 2015
Cape Canaveral
Falcon 9
139 seconds

September 1, 2016
Cape Canaveral
Falcon 9
Explosion during a test on the pad

Outrageous Environmental Contamination

The site for the proposed spaceport is very heavily contaminated, is on the Satilla River waterfront, and is owned by Union Carbide Corporation. The 1971 Thiokol disaster occurred on this property. The known contamination includes munitions waste, unexploded ordnance, and pesticide waste. With each vibration from a launch, groundwater, soil, and waterway contamination is likely. Due to being heavily contaminated with hazardous materials it is subject to an Environmental Covenant with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The site includes a 58.16-acre toxic landfill, in addition to the massive widespread contamination, that requires close monitoring and remediation to ensure that it its contents do not make their way into water sources.

Endangered Species at Risk

Within the boundaries of the Cumberland Island National Seashore is the longest running loggerhead turtle project in the world. Founded in 1964, this conservation endeavor still collects data vital to the preservation of the species. In Georgia, 25% of loggerhead nests occur on Cumberland Island. Six species of federally protected migratory birds and shorebirds including: Bald eagles, Piping plovers, and Wood storks. Marine endangered species in the area include:

  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Green sea turtles
  • Leatherback sea turtles
  • Kemp’s ridley sea turtles
  • North Atlantic right whales calving in Georgia waters
  • Humpback whales during migration
  • West Indian manatees

Conflict with Private Property Rights

Launches from Spaceport Camden will also require private property owners on Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island to evacuate their property and relinquish the right to remain in their homes. This would be deemed a taking of private property, and according to the Georgia constitution, private property can’t be taken to accommodate a commercial interest. Camden County has offered no explanation as to how they intend to deprive private citizens of their property rights in order to clear the required launch hazard areas.