- Georgia will be required to notify residents and local governments of its leaking landfills if HB 1028 is written into law. The bill passed the House yesterday, weeks after the public learned about toxic metals from coal ash leaking from Broadhurst Environmental Landfill near Jesup — an issue that was reported in December 2011, yet wasn't made aware to the public for years, according to the Atlantic Journal Constitution.
- It was two years after the detected leakage of the potentially cancer-inducing and nervous system-damaging toxins that Republic shuttered the coal ash facilities, according to Environmental Protection Division (EPD) files. The company began a site cleanup last fall. The volume and geographical reach of the coal ash residue has not been determined, though leachate does not appear to have invaded nearby wetlands, according to the EPD.
- The proposed bill will require the EPD to tell local residents and governments of landfills when landfill permits are requested, changed, or whenever "evidentiary indication of violation" occurs, according to the Atlantic Journal Constitution.
The toxic metal leachate makes clear the potential dangers of coal ash disposal, even in a lined, permitted landfill. A further concern is that the residue may have contaminated the area even years before 2011 when EPD became aware of the issue.
"It makes me mad, frankly, that they had something spill into our environment and we didn’t know about it," Wayne County Commission Chairman Kevin Copeland told the Atlantic Journal Constitution.
Meanwhile, Republic is pursuing plans that would open up the opportunity to accept millions more tons of coal ash a year. If HB 1028 passes and if Republic files for a permit, they, like any landfill operator, will need to be transparent from the start.
"I am thankful for my House colleagues who have supported me in helping citizens become more aware when adverse actions happen with regard to landfills," said Rep. Bill Werkheiser to the Atlantic Journal Constitution.