Citizens group concerned about landfill polluting Etowah River

Group seeks community support for legal initiatives
Group seeks community support for legal initiatives : Photo courtesy Sue Girton

Stop Trashing Forsyth and the Etowah, LLC is a citizens group has been opposing the expansion of dumping and any permit that would allow toxic coal ash/fly ash to be dumped in the Advanced Disposal Eagle Point landfill in Forsyth County on the bank of the Etowah River. The river flows into Lake Allatoona and is a source of drinking water for Cherokee, Bartow, and Cobb counties.

The group had previously presented a list of concerns/questions to the county and the report addressed most but not all. At the March 7 meeting, the commissioners passed the zoning for the methane plant 5-0 without any further discussion. The group plans to continue to work with the county to see that the conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding with Advanced Disposal are implemented and enforced, and hope that some of the negative conditions associated with the landfill will improve.

Group spokesperson Sue Girton reports that the group is focusing on two legislative issues during the current session of the Georgia legislature concluding on March 29, 2018. House Resolution 158 (HR 158) requires the state to use fees collected for a certain purpose actually be used for that purpose rather than redirecting them to other areas of the budget. Examples include the hazardous and solid waste trust funds, Joshua's Law supporting teen driver training, and the peace officers and prosecutors training fund. Approximately 40% of the $469,000,000 collected for the hazardous and solid waste fund since 1993 has been diverted to other areas of the budget. Joshua's Law generates between $3,000,000 and $10,000,000 annually and only about $8,000,000 has been used for drivers training since 2005. The peace officer and prosecutors training fund generates roughly $27,000,000 per year and an estimated $70,000,000 has been redirected between 1987- 2009.

A call to action

The House passed HR 158 by a vote of 166 to 1, and it is now in a Senate subcommittee where it is facing a fairly hostile audience. If the full Senate passes HR 158 before this session adjourns on March 29, then HR 158 will be placed on the November 2018 election ballot enabling the citizens of Georgia to vote on whether they want these funds spent on the purposes for which they are being collected. This issue has to be put to a citizen vote since it will enact a change to the state constitution. The group encourage everyone to contact their state Senator and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to voice their support for HR 158.

The other issue the group supports is SB 385 which increases the tipping fees landfills pay the host county in which the landfills are located. These fees are intended to be used on landfill related issues including remediation of possible hazardous materials left behind once the landfill closes. The fees have remained the same for many years, and counties need the additional funds because remediation is very expensive and the state cannot cover all the costs. SB (Senate Bill) 385 has passed the Senate and now needs the House of Representatives to pass it prior to March 29. The group encourage everyone to contact their House Representative and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to voice their support for SB 385.

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