- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers postponed a ruling on a proposed Atlanta rail yard that could receive as much as 10,000 tons of waste daily (more than 5 times its current intake)— including coal ash, for the adjoining Broadhurst Environmental Landfill, near Jesup, GA.
- Republic, which owns the landfill, says it has not decided to accept ash, though it has requested a permit to allow ash to be transferred by train then truck from other states. Wayne County residents and officials charge that the company sought federal and state government approval without notifying the public or city. Broadhurst received 800,000 tons of coal ash until it stopped accepting the waste in 2014. And now the yard would be able to capture coal ash runoff from the train-to-truck transfers.
- A public comment period remains open until March 4. Corps officials will also attend a commission-planned hearing this month, and Republic says it will hold an open house this week at Broadhurst.
The controversy over coal ash disposal and storage exists elsewhere in Georgia as utilities close coal-fired plants, with toxic ash left behind. Last year, roughly 140 million tons of ash was created nationwide.
While the EPA classifies the material as a household nonhazardous waste, coal ash contains arsenic, mercury and lead, among toxic substances requiring landfills receiving it to be equipped and trained to handle it safely.
While there are explicit federally mandated guidelines for the lucrative practice of handling ash, there have been casualties. Wayne County Commission Chairman Kevin Copeland is grappling with money coming into the county, "But at what cost? Do we sell out our (natural) resources to become a dumping ground?"
The commissioners said they will pass a resolution opposing the landfill expansion and possible ash deal. But because Republic does not need state approval and based on the Army Corps of Engineers typical actions involving wetlands swaps, Copeland said. "The commissioners actually have no say-so."