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Eagle Point Landfill 017

Sign photo:  The sign indicates Eagle Point Landfill is a municipal solid waste (MSW) and
construction and demolition (C&D) landfill PHOTO JIM FRANCIS

Stop trashing the Etowah and Forsyth County

Grassroots organization opposes landfill expansion, methane plant

By Denise Ray   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A local grassroots group is spreading the word about Eagle Point landfill including the potential negative impact of its proposed expansion, the possible addition of a methane gas plant on its property, and concerns about increased traffic and traffic accidents.

At question Monday evening was whether or not the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners would vote to approve Clean Eagle RNG, LLC, ZA3848 from A1 to M1 with a conditional use permit for a proposed recycling plant with five parking spaces. After a motion by Commissioner Cindy Mills and a unanimous vote, the issue was re-scheduled to August 3.

Despite the change in date, and an eco-friendly label of “recycling plant”, worried Forsyth County residents feared it is the first step toward a methane gas plant.

Eagle Point Landfill 025

If the Eagle Point Landfill expansion is approved, this mountain of trash—dubbed “Mount
Trashmore” by local residents—is expected to increase 40 stories in height.  PHOTO BY
JIM FRANCIS

Neighbors of Eagle Point landfill made their feelings known during the public comment segment of the meeting. County resident Jim Garrard addressed the commissioners about ‘Mount Trashmore’ and potential litigation, similar to the lawsuits currently facing Advanced Disposal in Michigan and Kentucky. Citizens in Michigan are battling the garbage company about an increase in smell.

Explaining how a landfill can produce “quite a bit of toxic matter” which often makes a home uninhabitable, the Vietnam veteran shared that there is currently another lawsuit against Advanced Disposal (current owners of the landfill) in Kentucky. Advanced Disposal requested the case be dismissed, but according to leading activist Brenda Henderson, the judge denied the request.

“There’s a lawsuit that has been filed against Advanced Disposal in Kentucky,” Garrard said. The company is being sued for $25,000 per homeowner, with “somewhere around 40,000 houses. “I don’t think you want to be involved in a lawsuit.”

Jarrard was quick to add to his comments.

“Don’t trust them [Advanced Disposal],” he said. “They’re in it for one thing and that’s money. They’re not in it to protect us or you. Realize that their goal is to take anything you’ve got and put it in their pocket.”

“I cannot comment on pending litigation,” said Charlie Gray, south regional vice president for Advanced Disposal.

Brenda Henderson was next to speak against the proposed changes and she, too, included legal issues in her comments which included the safety of all county citizens.

“There are legal issues you need to be aware of,” she remarked. “We want to protect the citizens of Forsyth County, not just the little area where I live. There have been some errors or invalid requests. You didn’t have an actual category that you could put it [the methane gas plant] in, so you put it in as an M1.”

According to Forsyth County zoning, A1 is agriculture and M1 is industrial. The Forsyth County Planning Commission recommended the commissioners approve the variance with seven stipulations last month. It is scheduled to come before them again August 3.

brenda talks to paddler

Activist Brenda Henderson (center) talks to a participant in the 2017 Paddle Georgia at
Eagle Beak Park in an effort to spread the word about the possible expansion of the
landfill and methane gas plant. PHOTO BY DENISE RAY

Henderson also reminded the elected officials that nothing had been done regarding environmental impact or air quality.

“You’ve just taken the word of the people who are applying for it,” she stated. “You don’t know how it is going to impact the environment.”

The third speaker in opposition to the methane plant was Bonnie Blanton, a resident of Old Federal Road who spoke to the elected officials regarding the impact the change can have on her family’s health and well-being.

“To my knowledge, I was the only person who was mailed any information about the public participation meeting,” she began. “There were only ten additional people. I would just like you to know that there would have been more people had there been more notification. There are more people than me that are concerned about our safety.”

Blanton was also concerned about what transpired during the meeting.

“I’d like to point out that at that meeting, no one from Advanced Disposal or Atlanta Gas Light was there to share their part in what was actually going on,” Blanton stated, her voice growing with assertion. “No one could tell me what safety controls would be in place or even how the mechanism would work. No one could tell me anything that would make me feel calm to live that close to the plant.”

Blanton’s front door is 500 feet from the proposed methane plant, she said.

“I’d like for you to see the face of a person at ground zero,” she began. “Please remember me when you vote on this because I will be the one at ground zero when something happens. I do urge you to please, please think when you vote.”

The three, and several others, shared their feelings with Marcie Kreiger, an employee of Advanced Disposal, who declined to be interviewed at that time.

However, Kreiger did say Advanced Disposal is a business and is “in it to make money,” according to Henderson, who was a participant in the group conversation.

When asked for a statement regarding the citizens’ concerns about the landfill expansion, Gray said, “There are processes set up. We’re still in the process, so it’s not appropriate for me to comment.”

Two days later, the group, this time larger in number, gathered at Eagle Beak Park and interacted with participants of Paddle Georgia as they left the Etowah River on their 106-mile journey. Sharing water, snacks and information, the green armband wearing individuals chatted with the paddlers who enjoyed the shade and nearby model airplane demonstration. Many of the paddlers expressed their concern and signed a petition opposing the expansion and methane gas plant. The petition, according to Henderson could be given to county commissioners as well as the Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

Methane is a gas composed of carbon and hydrogen and, according to the United States Department of the Interior’s US Geological Survey can be produced through biologic decomposition of organic matter at shallow depths. Swamps, landfills, and even shallow bedrock are some settings where this occurs. The USGS website states that “Under the right conditions, methane gas can migrate into water wells along with the groundwater. High concentrations of methane in water wells can accumulate in confined spaces and act as an asphyxiant or become flammable. These dangers can be mitigated through enhanced venting of the well casing or venting confined spaces (like basements) and removing any ignition sources.” https://www.usgs.gov/

Big Canoe View Of Landfield 001

This photo, taken from Sanderlin Mountain in Big Canoe, shows the Clubhouse at Sconti
Point in the foreground and the landfill in the background. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

Traffic Concerns

A meeting with Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman and Commissioner Mills was held June 19 to address traffic concerns of the landfill opponents. Over twenty county residents listened intently to Freeman as he explained what he can do as sheriff.

“I care about people being safe,” Freeman said. “As your sheriff, I can do something about those trucks driving safely, accidents, speeding or unsafe trucks or cars. If they [truck drivers] are speeding, driving recklessly or throwing litter all over the road, that I can do something about.” Georgia Department of Public Safety - Motor Carrier Compliance Division (MCCD) is responsible for overseeing truck specific issues such as over weight, torn mud flaps, bad tires, etc. MCCD is the one who can enforce federal DOT related issues.”

Smoke Signals will continue to cover this issue.

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