March 13, 2013

Landfill Expansion Unfair to Residents

To move forward in obtaining a 1993 landfill expansion permit, Athens-Clarke County, along with neighboring Oglethorpe County, entered into a written agreement with citizens living and worshipping near the dump that there would NEVER be another expansion.  The signatures of the two highest elected officials from both counties sealed the deal.

Fast forward 20 years later:   The Georgia Environmental Protection Division granted a permit last month  to ACC for another expansion.   That is a broken treaty, breach of contract, reneging on a promise—whatever you want to call it, the collective garbage dumping will carry on in a hazardous place where impacted people have been waiting patiently for two decades for it to properly close. 

ACC makes no apologies for the current permit.  Putting their legal front man out  to justify this travesty by claiming "a past commission cannot bind a future commission," this is a lame  excuse for abuse and  continuing oppression.    Oglethorpe County officials claim their hands were tied to the bullying that was done when ACC  took heritage land  for the expansion, which will be  entirely in Oglethorpe County.   Can the government renege on its promises  and expect obedience from those it governs?

 The majority of garbage that is generated from all of us who live in these two counties goes out the door and becomes someone else's problem—those living day in and out with the dump operations.    When both governments made their promise to citizens, they  were well aware of  the true health risks residents faced from past and ongoing toxic exposures  associated with  landfill operations.   Neither government disclosed it, but time has.   Diseases, poor quality of life, lack of enjoyment of property, and death have manifested themselves as proof that this community was and continues to be expendable.

 The cleanup has been the bare minimum and certainly not what was promised to the residents.    A commercial composting pad was built at the dump in recent years,  where tons of wet sewage sludge is trucked in on a weekly basis.   The  pad was built adjacent to the community house of worship,  knowing the sewage sludge compost operation  is not only an expansion of the landfill, but it has not been proven safe for the residents, churchgoers or the public who buys it.    Yes, it stinks even more now to high heaven at Sunday services, fellowships and funerals.    Yet when  did God's opinion matter at any time in this sordid saga?