|Eagle Point Landfill expansion (click to view larger image).
COURTESY BRENDA HENDERSON
Forsyth Landfill expansion may threaten Etowah River
Will increase truck traffic, reduce air quality
This is an ongoing story and will be updated daily as information becomes available.
Advanced Disposal, owners of the Eagle Point Landfill, are seeking a 40 percent increase in dumping area as well as a methane reclamation plant for their Old Federal Road dump site in northwest Forsyth County.
“Stop Trashing Forsyth and the Etowah,” a group opposing the expansion, is urging citizens to voice their concerns by emailing or writing to the Environment Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stating opposition to this expansion. The EPD is the governing body that will either allow or deny the permitting of the landfill expansion, and they are very interested in community feedback.
Largest landfill in the state
According to its website, the Eagle Point Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfill accepts about 6,000 tons of garbage a day, including municipal solid waste, construction and demolition, yard waste, inert waste, solidification, sludge, wastewater biosolids, friable (easily crumbled) and non-friable asbestos, industrial foundry sand, ash, hydrofracking waste, and contaminated soil. At a likely rate of 6,000 tons a day, this means an estimated 2,219,000 tons of trash a year and approximately 32,850,000 tons since the landfill opened in 2002. This is believed to be the largest landfill in the state, accepting trash from an estimated 20 counties.
Health, safety issues to consider
Groups opposing the landfill expansion list health, safety, quality of life issues as well as respect for the Cherokee Indians and others buried in the area as sound reasons to halt the landfill’s expansion.
The Etowah River winds around the landfill, creating what to many looks like the outline of an eagle’s head and beak, leading to Eagle’s Point name. Those opposing the landfill expansion argue that the natural erosion of rainfall moving over the dump, into small creeks and streams, especially the torrential rainfalls experienced this spring, could wash away toxic materials that will end up contaminating the Etowah River and likely affect the aquifer.
40 percent more dump trucks a day
It takes a lot of heavy dump trucks—estimates range from 1,000 to 1,200 a day—to deliver 6,000 tons of garbage each day. A 40 percent increase in landfill size will mean more dump trucks and traffic on Old Federal Road and the surrounding roads leading to the landfill. Many of these dump trucks travel hundreds of miles roundtrip, often losing bits and pieces of their loads along the way, on the same roads traveled by school buses and residents heading back and forth from Hwy 369 and SR 400.
Odor, air quality get worse
Anyone who drives down Old Federal Road today is aware of the pervasive odor—often overpowering—from garbage rotting. Savvy travelers learn to close their car windows and put the air conditioning on high as they turn onto Old Federal Road.
The increased truck traffic on the landfill site causes dust from the gravel which contains silica. This dust is dangerous to breathe.
Respect for Cherokee Heritage
There’s a certain irony in the fact that the pristine, landscaped lawns of the Eagle Point Landfill entrance flow along the Trail of Tears, a Georgia Historic route commemorating a tragic chapter in the state’s history. Expansion of the Eagle Point Landfill, some historians believe, will further eradicate Cherokee history and traditions.
According to local historian Don Wells, the Redbank Cherokee, an agrarian tribe, settled along the Etowah River like many other villages located from Dawson County to Cherokee County. Wells believes there are graves in the landfill area that would be disturbed, possibly obliterated, by landfill expansion.
“The Redbank Cherokee practiced a mortuary custom of taking their special tribal members, chiefs, medicine men, beloved elders, warriors and other special people and buried them on the highest hill near the village site. On [Indian historian] Forest Wade's map of the area around the Eagle's Beak, he found a large number of Cherokee graves just to the west of the Old Federal Road and a little north of the entrance to the landfill. This is the highest hill around the area.”
On the landfill property in the south end of the property is the Blackburn Cemetery, which is thought to contain a large number of Cherokee graves also. “These two sites as far as we know have not been disturbed yet,” said Wells. “But how many more sites, not yet found, are on the landfill property and will they be disturbed if the landfill is expanded.
“This is sacred ground to the Cherokee and more respect of the entire area should be shown by the county and the landfill contractor.”