County ready to expand landfill soon

Published 10:12 am Friday, May 11, 2012

The Decatur County Solid Waste Facility is set to more than double its existing capacity, pending approval from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

Steve Harbin, owner of Harbin Engineering of Forsyth, Ga., which provides engineering services to the county’s landfill, spoke at a public hearing before Tuesday’s meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners. Harbin explained that the public hearing was the last step before the EPD decides whether to issue a permit to allow the county to continue expanding the landfill.

“The purpose of this hearing is to fulfill the requirements of the law, and also to hear the public on this issue,” he said.

Harbin said the county is currently permitted to utilize approximately 29 acres on the 194.68-acre site in Attapulgus, at 104 Mine Loop Road. However, the county is estimated to use up that capacity in the next six years.

In order to meet additional demand in the coming years, the county plans to expand the landfill to an area of more than 75 acres. This will increase the anticipated lifespan from six years to more than 39 years.

Harbin explained that the landfill currently has three phases, or “cells,” that have already been built. An additional cell in the original 29-acre landfill — Cell No. 4 — is currently being built to the east.

If the expansion is approved by the EPD, Cell No. 5 would be built to the north, and Cells No. 6 and 7 would be built to the south.

“This would be almost a three-fold increase in area,” Harbin said. “We’ll also be adding a tire-processing and recycling area.”

Harbin said the county has a copy of the plans as currently submitted to the EPD, and will be notified of any changes that may have to be made to the plans.

“We’ll make those changes and submit the plan back to the EPD, and the permit will be issued,” he said. “Once the permit is issued, it is not final and effective until 30 days post-issuance. There’s a 30-day appeal period where anyone in the state can appeal, if they have concerns.”

Harbin said that the county recently bought a compactor that improved its waste-compacting ability from 1,000 pounds per cubic yard, to 1,800 pounds per cubic yard, which will help improve the capacity time.

Richard Crook, a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, also spoke at the meeting. Crook lives in the Crystal Lake subdivision, and spoke on behalf of the subdivision’s homeowners’ association. Crystal Lake is located adjacent to the landfill site.

“As a committee as a whole, we thoroughly concur with Mr. Hardin’s design and proposals to EPD to the county,” he said. “As a committee we would recommend that this be continued and voted upon positively. On behalf of the Crystal Lake homeowners’ association, I can simply say that everyone down there is in favor of the expansion.

“We don’t even know the landfill is there. It’s operated so efficiently. Typically you would say a landfill is covered by seagulls or buzzards, and we never see that problem. We have a 50-acre lake that is contiguous to the Solid Waste Facility, and it has remained perfect.

“The county has — as part of their agreement — checked and monitored the water quality in the lake and in the wells, and everything is fine. So on behalf of both the Solid Waste Advisory Committee and the Crystal Lake homeowners’ association, I would encourage that we go ahead with this permit.”

The county currently owns 194.68 acres on the existing landfill site, and recently purchased 768 acres to the west of the existing landfill. That land could also potentially be used for additional landfill expansion, if needed, Harbin said.