Hearing draws a crowd

2 02 2009

Ross Blair | Bryan County News

Hundreds of Bryan and Liberty residents filled the Midway Civic Center on Jan. 27 for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s public meeting and hearing about a proposed wastewater treatment plant near the Laurel View River, which runs through both counties.

A large number of phone calls and 236 letters written to the EPD expressing concern about the project prompted the hearing, which started with an informational meeting.

Officials manned the tables and interacted with residents, answering questions and explaining their viewpoint.

The EPD viewpoint seemed to be the same as the Liberty County Development Authority – that the plant will not harm the ecosystem along the Bryan and Liberty coastline.

“It is environmentally sound,” said Bob Scott with the EPD. “We would not have issued a draft permit if we hadn’t reviewed the design and felt confident that the plant can meet the limits that are protective of the environment.”

Scott said he has heard the many arguments against the creation of the facility, but he does not agree with them.

Continue Reading Here.


DOT action could kill Beltline, angry mayor says

27 01 2009


ARIEL HART | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

City of Atlanta officials are fuming over a move by the state Department of Transportation and Amtrak that they say could kill the Beltline, a planned 22-mile loop of transit, parks and trails around the city’s core.

The dispute centers on part of the land the Beltline would need.

Georgia DOT and Amtrak have united against the city and the Norfolk Southern rail company to oppose abandonment of a key northeast part of the corridor, according to a letter Mayor Shirley Franklin wrote to Rep. John Lewis. The abandonment would enable redevelopment.

“GDOT has acted to thwart the Beltline and with it jeopardized Atlanta’s ability to plan and accommodate the growth we know is coming in the next several decades,” Franklin wrote.

She said DOT’s actions would put noisy heavy rail, such as Amtrak trains, in inappropriate environments like neighborhoods near Piedmont Park, “at the expense of the Beltline.”

She called DOT’s behavior “boorish” and said that “the future of the city of Atlanta is at stake.”

DOT officials said the state’s actions are no threat to the Beltline.

DOT spokesman David Spear said that DOT remained “completely, totally supportive” of the Beltline and that it was possible to follow both DOT’s plans and the city’s plans for the Beltline.

Atlanta officials have hoped the Beltline will seed a rebirth in close-in Atlanta areas by attracting dense, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of homes, businesses and entertainment within walking distance from mass transit stops.

Lee County declares war on illegal dumping

30 11 2008

By Jim Wallace | WALB

Lee County code enforcement officers say they have declared war on illegal dumping in one of South Georgia’s fastest growing counties.

They’re working with State Department of Natural Resources Rangers to track down people who dump and throw out trash so they can prosecute them.

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Ranger Randy James is on patrol this Holiday weekend, looking for illegal dumping. He finds a big pile under a bridge on the Leslie Highway.

Ranger Randy James said “They get down in here, dump it off, and take off.”

Leaving behind a real mess for taxpayers to clean up.

James said “Right here we’ve got a little bit of roofing material, a screen, looks like some fencing and a bed. Look out here you’ve got a piece of decking and deer carcuses.”

Not only creating an eyesore, but a real health danger to the area’s environment.

James said “After you get a good 3 or 4 inches of rain, the creek will actually rise and flood out the banks, and pick up all this trash out here and take it downstream.”

James checks another area where they have found lots of illegal dumping, a cul-de-sac off Forrester Parkway. Lee County officials say they are declaring war on dumping. County Code Enforcement is putting out surveillance cameras, to catch dumpers in the act.

 James said “They are out right now. The problem is getting worse. So he is getting more cameras and he will have them out. So anyone going under a bridge thinking no one’s watching, someone will be watching.”

Most of the people they are catching so far are home owners.

 James said “Everyone tells me they are trying to save themselves a little bit of money. And for roughly 2 and a half cents a pound they can take it down to the landfill and avoid a day in court.”

Lee County and state law enforcement promise they will prosecute everyone they catch dumping, as they go high tech, stepping up efforts to stop this environmental crime.

Rangers say Judges are tough on illegal dumpers.

They usually hand out fines and community service that often involves cleaning up trash across the county.

‘We are the pay toilet of the nation’

17 11 2008



Three years ago, Tom Wood, a widower, former teacher and Navy veteran, moved to a remote spot in Marlboro County, hoping to live out his days in peace.

Now, he’s smack in the middle of a fight over what would be one of the state’s largest landfills ever — just a few miles from his home.

“This is a crying shame. It’ll hurt property values and stink things up,” said Wood, 68. The retiree is one of hundreds of people across the state fighting a little-noticed trend: the creation of giant landfills for household waste, much of it from other states.  Huge landfills are on the rise in South Carolina. The nation’s three largest garbage haulers — Waste Management Inc., Republic Services and Allied Waste Industries — have moved in, often under other names.

The Legislature never approved a policy allowing the state to become a garbage mecca.

But, with the approval of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina has become an East Coast destination dump.

The state buries far more garbage than it produces and is reserving space for even more.

South Carolina last year buried 4.8 million tons of its own garbage and an additional 1.7 million tons of out-of-state garbage. It could have buried more: DHEC has authorized state landfills to accept 9.9 million tons per year.

But if garbage landfills were to grow to the maximum allowed by law, they could bury 42 million tons per year — almost nine times what South Carolinians now put in the ground.

The state doesn’t earmark specific space for S.C. garbage. But landfill representatives say their excess capacity, authorized by DHEC, is for the state’s future.

The companies’ futures also are assured. They make millions importing other states’ household garbage. And if built, three landfills proposed in the past two years — in Marlboro, Williamsburg and Cherokee counties — could considerably increase what South Carolina buries.

Read on here.

Georgia marina community’s developer files Chapter 11

17 11 2008

The developer of a controversial marina community on the Georgia coast near Cumberland Island National Seashore has filed for bankruptcy.

Land Resource LLC, which was headquartered in Atlanta until last year, filed under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code in Orlando, where it is now located. Company owner J. Robert Ward is seeking “breathing room” to sell its assets, valued at about $115.2 million, the filing says.  In the filing dated Oct. 30, the company lists liabilities of $214.8 million. Among the creditors are the Atlanta Braves, owed $50,000, and a former employee who is owed $787,000, according to Land Resource.

Ward said his company fell victim to the real estate downturn, fueled by the credit crisis and low consumer confidence. He was not making enough money on sales to complete the promised projects.

“The banks stopped making loans to our customers,” Ward said in an e-mail. “It just doesn’t seem fair that the banks can put us into bankruptcy because of their failure to lend and then get a federal bailout, but then chase me personally and ruin a very good company and put 250 people out of work and affect thousands of property owners and leave them with uncompleted lots.”

Ward, who is 60, said he will start over.

The company’s assets include 128 unsold lots in Cumberland Harbour in St. Marys, where the largest marina complex on the Georgia coast has been proposed. According to Land Resource, 936 lots have been sold.

Read on here.

Landfill cleanup options studied

11 11 2008


By Rob Pavey| Augusta Chronicle

Columbia County is exploring cleanup options to stem the flow of contaminated groundwater migrating from its aging Baker Place landfill near Grovetown.  When the landfill opened in 1982, its first two 30-acre waste burial cells did not have protective liners because laws requiring them were not adopted until 1990 and did not take effect until 1993.

Consequently, groundwater flowing beneath those areas has become contaminated with methane — “landfill gas” — and various materials contained in liquid leachate that settles to the bottom of landfill garbage as it decomposes.

“What we will be doing is addressing contamination that’s been discovered at that facility from that unlined portion of the landfill,” said Don Bartles, the county’s solid waste manager.

A later waste cell, which opened in the mid-1990s and closed in 2006 after it was filled, includes a protective liner and a leachate collection system.

A network of monitoring wells indicates a small plume of contamination that has moved southwest, off the landfill property, and onto a portion of Interstate 20. The affected area is about 56 feet below the water table.

Cleanup options include groundwater extraction, in which wells are drilled into the contaminated area.

Water pumped out would be discharged into the newer, lined portion of the landfill, which has a liquid recovery system.

That water is confined in a storage tank, then pumped to a county wastewater plant for final processing into clean water.

Pumping from the affected portion of the aquifer slows or halts the spread of the contamination, Mr. Bartles said.

Any cleanup plan must also be approved by the county’s Public Works Committee and Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.

The county also is required to monitor the area for 30 years after the landfill is closed.

The unlined cells were closed in 1991 and 1995, respectively, and capped with a protective layer of dirt. The county’s last cell, a 15-acre lined site, was closed in 2006.

The county will finance any necessary cleanup with a reserve fund accumulated over the years by proceeds of the small per-ton surcharge on waste buried at Baker Place. The county also can apply for funds from a state-managed trust fund created for landfill remediation.

The county’s reserve fund had about $15 million when the landfill closed in 2006, Mr. Bartles said. About $3.5 million will have been spent by December in closure and capping activities, and the 30-year monitoring program is expected to cost $6 million to $7 million.

Remediation for the two unlined landfill cells has cost about $150,000 so far, and additional measures, Mr. Bartles estimated, would be in the $30,000 to $50,000 range

Nature walk puts spotlight on challenges facing Jekyll Island

28 10 2008

CAROLE HAWKINS, Florida Times-Union

JEKYLL ISLAND – Dorinda Dallmeyer ran her hands along the twisted skeleton of a live oak tree at Jekyll Island’s north beach.  “Here is one of the great love/hate relationships we have on Jekyll Island,” Dallmeyer said. “We hate to think of losing a live oak. But photographers love to take pictures of driftwood, and this is probably one of the biggest pieces you’ll ever see.”

As if agreeing, cameras clicked from among the dozen people who had followed Dallmeyer to the spot.

Nature walks on Jekyll aren’t uncommon, but one led by an ecologist from the University of Georgia certainly is, bringing details into focus that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

Dallmeyer is UGa’s Environmental Ethics Certificate Program director and her field trip was part of a weeklong ecology series on the past, present and future of the Jekyll Island region’s ecosystem. The program was sponsored by the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, the world’s first standalone ecology school, and held in conjunction with The Georgia Review’s Pulitzer Legacy in Georgia conference.

“It’s an exciting time for us to be here,” said Elisabeth Butler, the school’s director of development. “Jekyll’s revitalization plans give us a chance to talk about how to develop the coastline in the most ecological way possible.”

At the nature walk Wednesday Dallmeyer discussed Jekyll’s salt marshes and beaches as both ecological and commercial resources, but was nonjudgmental over which purpose held greater merit.

Read on here.