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E.T. Carlyle Co. issues statement on C&D landfill

E.T. Carlyle Co., which plans to site a construction and demolition landfill on 312-acres in northeast Lamar County, issued a statement Monday. The statement, which was written by the firm’s attorney George E. Butler II of Dahlonega, Ga. and entitled ‘Two C&D landfill fallacies’, follows: The E. T. Carlyle Co. is carefully pursuing the additional environmental studies necessary to submit its application to EPD for a C&D landfill on its 312-acre site in northeastern Lamar County off Possum Trot and High Falls State Park Roads. Unlike our opponents, who justified their no-holds-barred legal opposition to Carlyle’s plans on the basis that the Georgia EPD could not be trusted to properly regulate the site, we know better. And, yes, that means that we have been concerned from the start about the impact of the so-called Eady Creek and High Falls State Park Lake groundwater recharge areas on the permitability of our site. Because our opponents had no faith in the EPD, they put unconscionable pressure on local judges to take up the slack. In the process, they repudiated the ‘inert landfill’ settlement agreement that their own lawyer announced to Judge Smith in open court; and they even tried to hoodwink Judge Wilson into reversing Judge Caldwell, who merely upheld the Settlement announced to Judge Smith’”and then they ran to the paper to brag of their devious accomplishment. As a result, Judge Wilson had to set aside his earlier Order’”after finding that he ‘was intentionally misled as to the purpose and intent of the consent order by the attorneys for the . . . parties.’ So, while orchestrating comments by their clients (like Commissioner Thrash) to the effect that the local judicial process is ‘corrupt,’ it is these same local lawyers who intentionally deceived the local Court and got their other clients to send letters to the EPD to the effect that the Court-mandated letter to the EPD from Lamar County was invalid or insufficient, not to mention the fact that the letter they drafted for Commission Chairman Mathews to send EPD restated the County’s opinion that Judge Smith’s original Order, which Judge Caldwell had stated his intent to enforce, was totally erroneous. Now that the focus of attention has turned to EPD, one (or more) of these attorneys is resorting to the same tactics to mislead well-meaning and conscientious members of the public, including but not limited to the High Falls/Towaliga Watershed Alliance. The attorney(s)’ false new rallying cry, which they have induced your State Representative to repeat, is that there have been a number of ‘judicial ruling[s] that ignor[e] the recharge area protections [under the local zoning ordinance]’’”and that as a result the E. T. Carlyle Company has been given judicial carte blanche to (i) build an unlined C&D landfill in (ii) an established and significant groundwater recharge area. All of those charges are false. For starters, the E. T. Carlyle Company successfully argued to the Superior Court that it had ‘vested’ its rights to locate a potential C&D landfill on its 312-acre site at a time when the ‘groundwater recharge’ restrictions in the County’s Zoning Ordinance applied only to so-called ‘sanitary landfills’’”a/k/a ‘garbage dumps’ or ‘municipal solid waste landfills’’”but not to relatively-benign C&D landfills. And both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court turned down the County’s attempted appeal on this issue. More importantly, the current local protest centers around the unqualified assertion that Carlyle is proposing to site an unlined C&D landfill in a significant groundwater recharge area. That assertion contains two fallacies or untruths’”since the site is not necessarily a significant groundwater recharge area and since a C&D landfill is not necessarily entitled to be built without liners. Let me explain. First, despite categorical statements to the contrary by people who should know better, the proposed 312-acre Carlyle landfill site is not necessarily a significant groundwater recharge area. That is because it is shown on Hydrologic Atlas 18 as merely an ‘area of probable thick soils’; and such areas, which are located almost exclusively north of the fall line, are merely presumed to be significant groundwater recharge areas, subject to further testing and verification. In any event, Hydrologic Atlas 18 was designed to identify only the ‘most significant groundwater recharge areas of Georgia, since about 9/10ths of the land surface of Georgia is a recharge area’ and most of that land is not important to protecting the water supply. Moreover, EPD developed Hydrologic Atlas 18 on the basis of very generalized statewide data and not on specific local geologic mapping, with the result that it is not uncommon to have site-specific hydrogeological testing and geologic mapping done to confirm the precise location on the ground of a recharge area and to verify whether an area of ‘probable thick soils’ is in fact a significant groundwater recharge area. And, as part of the EPD permitting process, an applicant may seek a specific scientific determination from the Director of EPD as to whether the site in question is indeed a ‘significant groundwater recharge area.’ Carlyle plans to do that. Secondly, because C&D landfills are subject to most of the same rules and regulations that apply to Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, the presumption is that they, too, will have to be lined unless they are ‘given a variance by the Director [of EPD] from installing liners and leachate collection systems . . ..’ DNR Solid Waste Rule 391-3-4-.07(4)(b). And, I think it is safe to say’”if it turns out that the Carlyle site is in a significant groundwater recharge area’”that the Director would not grant it a variance from the liner requirement. We read in the local paper that ‘for some reason . . . Carlyle has not yet applied to the EPD’; and we find that puzzlement amusing because (like any responsible small business owner) Carlyle is not free to assert to EPD as truth its own unsubstantiated opinion as to whether or not its site is in fact in a significant groundwater recharge area. Instead, Carlyle is embarked on a long, arduous, and expensive permitting process with the dedicated folks at EPD to determine (among other things) the answer to that question. And, as suggested, the local populace should be protected either way. If it is not a significant groundwater recharge area’”but is like 9/10ths of the rest of the State’”then there is no danger of ‘irreparable harm to drinking water supplies throughout the area.’ And, if it is in a significant groundwater recharge area, then it should not be eligible for a ‘variance’ from the liner requirement that otherwise applies to C&D landfills. The folks at Carlyle hope this statement will shed some helpful and reassuring light on the current situation.

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