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Landfill bill dead, for now

By Kay S. Pedrotti Senate Bill 110 removing a section of Georgia law used to protect water recharge areas from landfill contamination was tabled Tuesday by the Georgia resource management subcommittee of the House of Representatives. The bill has been passed by the Senate and its progress in the House is stopped as of now by the subcommitee’s action. Lamar County Regional Solid Waste Authority director Johnny Poore declared the action a temporary victory for counties and cities seeking ways to prevent ‘mega-landfills,’ especially in areas critical to preserving pure groundwater. Poore was among 15 speakers against the bill. His comments centered on groundwater recharge areas as being ‘environmentally sensitive’ areas as are river corridors and wetland. He asked, ‘Would you be willing to locate a landfill alongside the Chattahoochee or Lake Lanier? Groundwater recharge areas are designated the same as those areas and should be given the same protection.’ Bill author Sen. Jack Murphy and Environmental Protection Division director Allen Barnes said the bill does not take away groundwater recharge area protections, but merely removes some sections ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable. Several committee members questioned why quick action was called for now, since court rulings on the section part restricting out-of-county or state-to-state waste in Georgia landfills were given by various pro-speakers as having been in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995 or 1996. Barnes said during his testimony that EPD ‘would not approve a permit for anything that is not in the solid waste management plan’ for the county or region. Poore says Lamar County’s plan strictly prohibits any landfills in groundwater recharge areas and other sensitive areas. The subcommittee room was packed with opponents representing Twiggs, Lamar, Washington, Crawford, Bibb, Butts, Lamar and Pike counties. There were about 22 lobbyists also present, only one of whom represented conservation groups. Rep. Bubber Epps of Dry Branch (R-110) had planned to introduce an amendment to the bill which would have restored mandatory reporting to the state on landfill capacity, contents and annual input. The reports would be required whether a landfill is publicly or privately owned. After the meeting an opponent of the bill, Rep. Carla Drenner of DeKalb County (D-86), advised citizens to ‘look out for an attempt to attach this to another piece of legislation.’ Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown (R-117) made the motion to table the bill.

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