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ponds above the river with black

This view shows the proximity of the Etowah River to the landfill’s retention ponds.

AJC shines spotlight on Georgia’s landfill industry

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

Sunday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution carried a front-page story—“Other states use Georgia as a dumping ground,” Aug. 13—questioning the amount of coal ash Georgia’s major landfills are bringing into the state.

A by-product of coal-fired electric plants, coal ash is not exactly the kind of abundant import local chambers of commerce list prominently on community brochures.

Brenda Henderson, a resident of Forsyth County’s Old Federal Road, where the Eagle Point Landfill is located, welcomes the AJC’s focus on landfills. She’s hoping the AJC’s clout and circulation as a regional publication will get answers to some of the questions she and her supporters have been asking Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Forsyth County officials and Eagle Point Landfill operator’s Advanced Disposal for months—without much response.  

According to the AJC article, “Landfills in Cherokee, Chatham and Meriwether counties notified the state that they plan to take 290,000 tons of coal ash over the next year, and a state official told the AJC that the ash will come from Georgia Power plants.”

“How much of that coal ash will end up in the Eagle Point Landfill?” Henderson and “Stop Trashing Forsyth and the Etowah,” a group opposing the Eagle Point Landfill’s expansion, want to know.

For months, they’ve urged citizens to voice their concerns to the landfill’s expansion by emailing or writing to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Now, many believe their last stand may be a GEPD public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Advanced Disposal Eagle Point Landfill from 6-8 p.m. on August 22, in the auditorium of North Forsyth High School located at 3636 Coal Mountain Drive in Cumming.

Anyone and everyone with questions, concerns and issues about the landfill’s current operation and proposed expansion is urged to attend.

Landfil showing danger to river
 

No shortage of problems

Coal ash is just the latest of the many serious issues about Eagle Point Landfill that keep Henderson and others up at nights fighting the expansion.

Answers to questions asked of Advanced Disposal officials have been short on specifics if answered at all. If she can’t get questions answered, issues handled today, Henderson wonders, what’s going to happen if and when, Advanced Disposal’s application for a 40 percent expansion is approved.

Residents along Old Federal Road as well as adjacent Ga. Hwy 369 and Yellow Creek Road put up with a steady, five-day a week stream of dump trucks, 18-wheelers, pick up and an assortment of vehicles carting loads of trash to Eagle Point landfill.

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 and non-friable asbestos, industrial foundry sand, ash, hydrofracking waste, and contaminated soil.

Eagle Point Landfill 022
Eagle Point Landfill

Wide range of health, safety issues

Groups opposing the landfill expansion list health, safety and quality of life issues as well as respect for the Cherokee Indian burial grounds and others buried in the area as sound reasons to halt the landfill’s expansion.

The Etowah River winds around the landfill. Those opposing the landfill expansion argue that the natural erosion of rainfall moving over the dump, into small creeks and streams—especially during the torrential rainfalls experienced this spring—could wash away toxic materials that will end up contaminating the Etowah River and likely affect the aquifer.

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 Ga Hwy 369 and SR 400.

Has anyone at EPD calculated the carbon footprint of the thousands of heavy trucks that carry garbage hundreds of miles a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year?      

Anyone who drives down Old Federal Road today is aware of the pervasive odor—often overpowering—from garbage rotting. The increased truck traffic on the landfill site causes dust from the gravel which contains silica. This dust is dangerous to breathe. The addition of more coal ash in the landfill likely will further degrade air quality in the area and lifestyle in general for area residents.

Brenda Henderson and other concerned citizens deserve to have their questions answered honestly and fully by Advance Disposal and the county/state officials elected to represent them.

They deserve to have their interests and well-being considered by their elected county/state officials and agencies with the same vigor and determination Advanced Disposal receives.

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