Meeting set for proposed sewage treatment plant

27 01 2009


Tim Guidera | WTOC 11

Questions, concerns and information will be on the agenda in a town meeting at Port Wentworth City Hall tonight as a proposed sewage treatment plant in the city is discussed.

Residents are invited to meet with representatives of Georgia Environmental Protection Division and discuss the project slated for a 22-acre site on O’Leary Road off Highway 21.

“EPD’s coming in from Atlanta,” said Port Wentworth mayor Glenn Jones. “And they’re going to open their doors, our city hall doors, to anybody who wants to speak to basically listen to what we’re going to be doing for our wastewater treatment facility.”

The courtroom at Port Wentworth City Hall will be set up with seven tables where people can get information and ask questions about the project for an hour, beginning at 7pm. Then, at 8pm, there will be a public hearing where people can put their comments on the record.

“People will be able to write your comments in letter form and they will take them home, back to Atlanta and respond to them,” said Jones.

Continue Reading Here.


Decatur PFOA Find Could Lead to Regulations

22 01 2009

GPB News

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are investigating how record amounts of PFOA and other Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) turned up in Decatur, Alabama sludge.

The investigation could eventually lead to regulated PFOA standards in sewage treatment, officials say, although much more data and studies would need to be completed before making such a determination. Already, the high levels in Decatur prompted an EPA drinking water advisory for PFOA and PFOS.

The question investigators have is whether Decatur is a unique case.

PFOA is classified by the EPA as a “likely carcinogen,” and numerous studies have linked it to various cancers. It is often described as a byproduct of making stain resistant carpet, and an ingredient in manufacturing non-stick surfaces such as Teflon.

Any new standards could impact a wastewater treatment plant in Whitfield County operated by Dalton Utilities that releases PFOA and other PFCs that eventually end up in the Conasauga River, a source of drinking water for several Northwest Georgia Communities.

Some samples gathered by the EPA in the Conasauga’s surface water have shown 12.5 times the advisable amount for drinking water.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division tested drinking water and fish tissue along the Conasaugua for PFOA and PFCs, but are still evaluating the results from that summer survey.

Dalton Utilities says they need more guidance from permitting authorities, and will not change operations until then.

In an effort to find the sources of PFOA in Decatur, EPA officials have requested information from fourteen companies with Alabama operations, including 3M, Japanese based chemical manufacturer Daikin, and Toray Flurofibers. According to EPA officials, all three chemical companies have been cooperative and are not suspected of any wrongdoing or law violations.

The EPA is also looking into privately held Alabama waste company, Biological Processors of Alabama, Inc, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read on here.

Sixth Circuit rules on challenge to EPA regulation of Kentucky waters

4 09 2008

Abigail Salisbury | The Jurist

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday ruled [opinion, PDF] on a suit brought by several Kentucky environmental groups, including a chapter of the Sierra Club [advocacy website], against Stephen L. Johnson [EPA bio] in his official capacity as Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website]. The plaintiffs filed suit under the Clean Water Act [text], seeking to compel Johnson to fulfill his duty to implement antidegradation requirements for Kentucky. In a complex order, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the EPA on the challenge to the EPA’s approval of Kentucky’s selection of regulated waters, reversed the grant of summary judgment to the EPA on the its approval of Kentucky’s exemption of six types of pollution discharges from review, and remanded the matter to the EPA. Judge Clay authored the opinion, stating “In my view, the EPA acted contrary to law by relying on [Kentucky’s] unenforceable commitments.”

In recent months, the EPA has been sued by a number of states seeking either the promulgation of regulations or effective response to petitions. In August, twelve states filed suit [press release; JURIST report] against the EPA for its alleged failure to enforce provisions of the Clean Air Act [text; EPA materials] requiring oil refineries to adopt measures curbing the pollution contributing to global warming. In July, California Attorney General Jerry Brown [official website] formally notified [letter, PDF; press release] the EPA that the state had petitioned the EPA three times seeking a regulatory ruling and would file a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the agency if it refused to issue rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from various vehicles and types of machinery.

EPD Proposes Settlements with Gainesville, Cumming Over Sewage Spills

26 08 2008


By Ken Stanford Editor, Access North Georgia

ATLANTA – The state has proposed settlements with the City of Gainesville and the City of Cumming over sewage spills.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) wants $6,250 from Gainesville and $1,500 from Cumming.

The filings were among several involving northeast Georgia interests that were were released Monday.

The Ellijay water pollution control plant (proposed $750 settlement), Unicoi State Park near Helen ($150), Georgia Cumberland Academy in Gilmer County ($750) and Gilmer County’s Oakland Elementary School ($500) were also included.

Each of the filings and proposed settlements come under the authority of the Water Quality Control Act, according to EPD.

Hogansville: Water Deal Not Tied to Landfill

22 08 2008


LaGrange Daily News – By Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

Hogansville City Council fired back Monday at U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who last week called a water deal between the city and Meriwether County on the heels of a landfill proposal “suspicious.”

“This is not Westmoreland’s business,” said Hogansville Mayor Jimmy Jackson. “I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to stop making these statements. We did the best we could.”

Westmoreland, a Grantville Republican, lives about three miles from the proposed Turkey Run landfill in the northwest corner of Meriwether County. The site, proposed by Alabama-based Greenbow LLC, is just across Interstate 85 from Hogansville. State Sens. Mitch Seabaugh and Seth Harp say they will ask the congressman to intervene with the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the landfill’s progress.

The landfill has drawn sharp opposition from many in the area, mainly because it’s proposed site is on the Blue Creek watershed. Westmoreland said the creek is considered the headwaters for West Point Lake and flows into Yellow Jacket Creek, which is a direct tributary to the lake.

Read more here.

Longleaf appeal, CO2, Georgia, climate change.

Meriwether Landfill Appeal Follows on the Heels of Longleaf CO2 Appeal

21 08 2008


With the ink barely dry on the Court of Appeals acceptance, another appeal seeks to define the role of ALJs in environmental appeals. 


GreenLaw, Friends of the Chattahoochee, Inc. and Sierra Club sought to overturn an ALJ’s decision upholding an EPD permit for the Longleaf facility.  On appeal to Superior Court, Fulton County Superior Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore sided with environmental groups opposing the project by ruling in June that the permits are invalid because they don’t regulate CO2, which has been linked to global warming.  You can obtain a copy of Judge Moore’s decision here.  One of the issues on appeal is whether the state Environmental Protection Division should place legal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide by the planned $2 billion Longleaf Energy Station in rural southwest Georgia.  Yet, another issue was the proper standard of review to be used by an ALJ on appeal.

Right on the heels of that appeal is Zarate, et. al. v. EPD v. Greenbow, LLC, Civil Action No. 2008-CV-152006 in the Superior Court of Fulton County, preparing to be heard by a different Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Judge Ural D. Glanville.  This is an appeal from an Administrative Law Judge’s decision upholding a landfill permit in Northwest Meriwether County, Georgia, proposed by Greenbow, LLC, of Montgomery, Alabama.   Central to this appeal is the same standard of review issue.  The Superior Court oral argument is scheduled for August 25, 2008, at 8:30am in Courtroom 5F.

Standard of Review:

Though the Longleaf appeal has the bigger issue of regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, at issue in both matters is the standard of review for Administrative Law Judges.  Under Georgia law, when an ALJ reviews a challenge to a permit issued by EPD the ALJ conducts an evidentiary hearing, not an appellate review of the record.  As in other such evidentiary proceedings, the law requires application of a de novo standard of review.  OSAH Rule 21 (3) (“The hearing shall be de novo in nature[.]”)(emphasis added).  As recently ruled by Judge Cummings Moore of Fulton County Superior Court when faced with the same standard of review dispute on the part of an ALJ, there is no requirement that petitioners affirmatively prove that EPD’s decision, or its view of the facts, was “unreasonable.”

Accordingly, in evaluating petitioners’ claims and the evidence offered regarding those claims, O.C.G.A. § 12-2-2(c)(2)(A) and OSAH Rule 21 the Meriwether citizens argue that the ALJ was prohibited from deferring to EPD’s judgment on issuance of the landfill permit. 


On December 21, 2007, The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in Atlanta issued a permit to Greenbow LLC of Montgomery, Alabama for the operation of the Turkey Run Municipal Solid Waste Landfill in Northwest Meriwether County.   The Landfill will be located in a municipal water supply watershed, on 1500 acres along  highway  54 near the town of Lone Oak, Georgia.

The issue became controversial approximately three years ago, when The Meriwether County Board of Commissioners approved Greenbow’s application for the landfill.  Many citizens expressed concern that the Meriwether County Commission acted in haste, and without due diligence, in approving the application, without considering the full impact of their action on the citizens who live closest to area where the proposed landfill will be operated.  

Growing concern over the landfill prompted the reinstatement of Meriwether County’s NAACP, as well as the formation of other groups who have now united in their effort to protest the landfill.   In addition, other organizations, such as Anniston based Community Against Pollution (CAP), have become involved and pledged to assist local citizens in challenging the landfill.

On May 19, 2008 at an Administrative hearing, an ALJ ruled in EPD’s favor, however Eco-Action pledged to take their fight to the next level, which will mean filing an appeal in Superior Court.  Briefs have been filed by both sides and the hearing is set for August 25, 2008, at 8:30am in Courtroom 5F, before Judge Ural D. Glanville. 


EPD Reduces Fine Against Ringgold

21 08 2008

We now know the amount of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division fine against the city of Ringgold, following a NewsChannel 9 investigation.

The Environmental Proptection Division fined the city $1,000 for the raw sewage leak into South Chickamauga Creek. The fine was reduced from $5,000, with the remainder going to clean-up.  The city has already spent more than $100,000 to pump out this storage pond and fill it. We discovered unsafe amounts of fecal matter came from the pond and drained into South Chickamauga Creek Catoosa county has agreed to reimburse the city with your tax dollars.

The drainage happened because the city never connected the sewage to Moccasin Bend, even though all it needed was a ten foot connection.After our investigation, the City connected the line to Moccasin Bend.  The City, County and E-P-D have not given an answer of why that connection didn’t happen earlier.

Read more here.