Posted: Thursday, August 8th 2013 at 7:25pm
Commission approves waste removal and odor control
By Jerry Gunn Staff
GAINESVILLE - Hall County Commissioners heard from critics and a project engineer Thursday and decided to approve a waste removal and odor control plan for the Gainesville Waste and Recycling landfill on Athens Highway, also known as Old County Dump Road.
That dump dates back to the 1960’s when controls and regulations for landfills weren’t nearly as stringent as they are now. The county closed it in the '80s and it literally caused a stink last year when the owner got state permission to dump sanitary waste there contrary to the county’s designation that allowed for construction and demolition waste only.
Vice Chairman Jeff Stowe made the approval motion feeling assured that if removing old waste caused a stink again that annoyed nearby residents, the county could shut it down.
“We’ve got a lot of controls in place,” Stowe said. “I think the plan they put together was very detailed in what they’re going to do to mask any odors that may come from the existing landfill and they touched all the questions we had.”
GWAR must meet state environmental requirements to remove any old garbage before using it to dump construction and demolition debris.
Clint Courson with Hodges, Harbin, Newberry and Tribble from Macon, told commissioners the waste removal and odor control plan has been approved by the state Environmental Protection Control Division.
“We’ve developed six different steps that can be taken to prevent the odor,” Courson said. “The mining area would be kept very small; it would be a pilot project in the beginning so we can see what kind of waste we would encounter. A consulting engineering firm would oversee the project and the documentation would be submitted to EPD for approval and they would have the opportunity to come out and inspect it.”
Courson said waste would be screened as it’s brought up. Materials that could be recycled would be separated. Old sanitary waste (household garbage) would be loaded up and taken to a permitted landfill. Any hazardous or radioactive waste would be pulled out separated and hauled to a permitted hazardous waste landfill.
Public Works Director Ken Rearden told Stowe the county would have oversight if there are complaints.
“If they can’t mask the odor well enough I think we could stop the excavation, cover it up and stop that operation,” Rearden said. “We think there’s going to be enough oversight on this and we’ll monitor this thing very closely.”
Commissioners Billy Powell and Scott Gibbs both indicated it might be good to put up with a ‘little odor’ to get rid of the waste.
“You need not make a blanket statement that we’re going to shut it down, it depends on what it is and it might be to the advantage to get rid of it,” Powell said. "It may be something you don’t want buried in the ground.”
“I think when you remove some of these contaminants it should help our ground water situation,” Gibbs said. “If you take the source away, it can only help. I don’t want to get into an odor situation that we had previously but a little bit of odor for a very short period of time to get that area cleaned up might be worth the reward to get it gone period.”
Doug Aiken, a frequent commission meeting speaker, wanted to know exactly how possible hazardous waste would be transported from the site once it’s removed.
"What will be the requirements to protect the citizens near the landfill, and others?” Aiken asked.
Terry Kuehn of Gainesville told commissioners he was a former Chairman of the Love Canal Agency in New York State. The Love Canal was one of the worst toxic pollution sites in American history and Kuehn told commissioners they could learn from it.
“I’m suggesting, put somebody on site at their (the owner’s) cost and check the trucks that are going out and the trucks that are coming in for a one year period so you can be guaranteed that it’s a quality operation,” Kuehn said. “What happens today is going to be different than 20 years out.”
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