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County considers banning coal ash from landfills

Toxins may flow into nearby waterways



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The county is considering an ordinance that would ban toxic contaminants such as mercury and arsenic from landfills.

The ban would target coal ash and other coal combustion residuals as well as the practice of “misting,” so as to guard against toxins from leaking into nearby waterways.

At its Jan. 4 meeting, the County Commission discussed creating an ordinance that was spurred by lengthy negotiations with Advanced Disposal Services last year.

Last month, the county entered into an agreement with the company which owns and operates Eagle Point Landfill in north Forsyth. The agreement will give the county more access to the landfill to police its operations.

The landfill has sparked contention with the county and public since they learned earlier lastyear about plans for expansion.

The ordinance cannot be formally adopted until after two public hearings, which would put its earliest approval sometime in February.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said Advanced Disposal seems comfortable with the ordinance and has agreed it will not seek to challenge it.

Coal ash is defined by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division as the materials generated from burning coal for the purpose of generating electricity by electric utilities and independent power producers.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has concluded the ash may contain many potentially toxic contaminants including, but not limited to, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Ash can potential leach into groundwater and spread to nearby properties, contaminating drinking water and generating air pollutants. Eagle Point Landfill is adjacent to the Etowah River.

Commissioners said they are aware that landfill leachate, even in a lined landfill, may eventually leak through the liner and contaminate the soil, water and air.

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