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Who’s looking out for us?

By   /   March 16, 2011  /   Comments

Although our county is in need of jobs there is a debate going on with the citizens and the state of Georgia as to whether or not Taylor County is considered worth investing in or simply using it as the logical dumping ground for various trash problems throughout the state.

Every city needs to handle their garbage in a safe and timely manner and should have their own landfill. It makes their citizens much more environmentally aware if they think about contaminating their own land and water supplies, but if they can always ship it off to a poorer county they don’t have to consider the consequences of not being environmentally wise.

Taylor County has been marked as a likely dumping ground. We are poor, less populated, have about a 50-percent ethnic population, and already have the largest landfill in the South. Who cares about us?

Not Dick Harville from Thomaston, Ga. He is the bankrupt owner of the Agri-Cycle, LLC. He has destroyed a beautiful community in Talmo, Ga., up near Athens area and has forced that tiny town to live with stench and contamination for years. The EPD said he put the “health and well-being of the community at risk and that is what led to the company being shut down.” He is now behind Freed Farms LLC. He stated in one of his information meetings that he is just their consultant and doesn’t own Freed Farms, but he is personally in the process of building a biodiesel plant on a section of his property next to the land he is leasing to Freed Farms for their water treatment plant and LAS (Land Application System “spray fields”) This man has a poor environmental track record. From Texas with Azurix, an affiliate of Enron, to Georgia and Zurix Watertreatment, Zurix Biodiesel, Agri-Cycle, and now Zurix Industrial. Who knows what else.

The local newspaper in Jackson County called him a bad corporate citizen that simply doesn’t care about how it affects the local citizens, the environment or the local watershed. They said he repeatedly violated EPD rules and mandates and misled the public about what the company is really doing. Their non-compliance issues over the years lead to numerous EPD violations. Their facility constructed ponds without EPD approval and had violations for spray field loads and was receiving domestic waste.

He was ordered to shut down when the Talmo holding pond caught on fire and burned for days. Their paper reported that the neighbors were suspicious about the timing and felt like they might just be burning the evidence. The fire commissioner did rule it an accident, but how does clean water burn for that long or at all?

The Biofuels Digest reported, “In Georgia, a grease recycling plant in Talmo where a 10-million-gallon detention pond famously caught on fire … will convert to a biodiesel facility. Zurix Biodiesel, formed by the current owner of the Agri-Cycle plant that was closed by the EPA, has received a $500,000 grant.” Millions of gallons of recovered grease will go into the new plant for use as fuel for Harville’s newest venture.

But wait, he’s been closed down and he can’t build there. He has an injunction again him there. That is why Dick Harville is rushing to build his biodiesel plant somewhere else. He said the community where he is going to build is all on board. WHAT? We are not onboard. He can’t receive that money until he submits the bills and the plant is up and running. Who gives someone with this horrible track record a grant like that? Why would he keep coming to Taylor County? He has said he doesn’t need our commissioners’ approval. Well, Mr. Harville, we are not all onboard!

Freed Farms has applied for a permit from the EPD for the final treatment of biodiesel and land application of the wastewater, on the land they are leasing from Zurix Industrial, LLC (owned by Richard Harville), next to Cedar Creek in Mauk, Ga. This is going to consist of a plant and 4 holding ponds. For four years Talmo, Ga., has had to deal with ponds of greasy wastewater from one of his plants that apparently no one can force him to clean up and it took a fire and the Georgia Supreme Court to shut down his operation there, which wasn’t run according to regulations.

If you don’t want to deal with possible similar issues or worse in your county, please write to Mr. Dominic Weatherill, Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement Program Watershed Protection Branch, 4220 International Parkway, Suite 101, Atlanta, Georgia 30354 or via e-mail at EPDcomments@dnr.state.ga.us.

You can mention that Tom Weiland from the Department of Geology and Physics at Georgia Southwestern State University, states, “The worst possible location for a LAS is in Taylor County on the recharge area for one of the most important aquifers in the Southeast. Almost any other location, except maybe on the Floridian aquifer, would be better.” He further stated that this (most significant natural ground-water recharge, as described in Georgia Geologic Survey Hydrologic Atlas 18) is a major source of water for the cities of Americus, Albany, Brunswick and others to our south (see 391-3-18-.02(d) and 391-3-18-.03 of the DNR’s Rules for Certification of Environmentally Sensitive Property).

We are also located in the Flint River Basin, (part of the Floridian aquifer system, a karst limestone aquifer that is susceptible to contamination) that contains four federally endangered and two federally threatened mussel species, (see Part 503, Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act).

We have 30 days from March 10 to object and please send an email or letter and include RE: Permit No. GAJ010408.

Nancy Payne

Nita Parkman

Butler, Ga.

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