Continuing after the recent public meetings, WWALS and others talked about coal ash at the Valdosta City Council March 9th, with a puzzling response from the Mayor, and at the Lowndes County Commission March 14th, with an interruption by the Chairman and no other response. Both city and county have had the same members on the board of the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority (WMA) since 2005, so presumably they have more control than they want to admit over the local privatized landfill with its coal ash, PCBs, and Superfund wastewater. Remember, that landfill is a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River and in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone.
WWALS Executive Directory Gretchen Quarterman spoke at both meetings. WWALS member Bill Worstell spoke at the Valdosta City Council meeting, as did J.D. Rice. (Meanwhile, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and one other spoke to the Valdosta City Council about sewage.)
Here are LAKE videos of each speaker, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist.
7. CTBH – Gretchen Quarterman on Coal Ash
Video. She asked them to get State Rep. Dexter Sharper (D-177) on the coal ash study committee appointed by the legislature after the coal ash bills did not pass. She noted that even though state law does not require notice of toxic chemicals such as coal ash being put in a landfill, local ordinances could, and she asked them to pass one.
7. CTBH – JD Rice on what toxic waste is in landfill
Video. He asked them to find out if hazardous waste was being dumped into the landfill. He also applauded them on the truck bypass proposals.
7. CTBH – William Worstell on toxic waste from Albany
Video. He expressed concern about hazardous waste such as coal ash in the landfill and asked the city to look into it. Here’s the Mayor’s response:
It’s not our landfill, I hate to tell you. We do not own that landfill. It’s owned by a private company, and we dump just like everybody else, so that’s not, we don’t control it.
So why does Valdosta keep two members on the board of the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority, and why is one of them, Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson, apparently the authority on that Authority?
8. CWTBH – Gretchen Quarterman on Coal Ash
Video. She thanked the county, specifically Public Works Director Robin Cumbas, for picking up the mountains of trash WWALS has been picking up at the river landings.
She discussed HB 387 and HB 388, which would have required public notice when coal ash ponds are dewatered and coal ash is disposed of. Georgia Power is closing 29 coal ash ponds with 8-10 million tons of coal ash, with mercury, lead, arsenic, and “stuff you wouldn’t want to get into your water systems”. Right now there are no regulations for notification. But since Georgia is a home rule state, the county could make an ordinance requiring notification of the public.
Chairman Bill Slaughter interrupted to say they were going to do a minute of silence about agriculture and the impending freezing temperature, on a timing with local churches. Apparently the staff was also surprised, since it took a few seconds for the CWTBH countdown clock to stop.
“So our water is really one of our big resources here. We sit on the Floridan Aquifer. We have our beautiful rivers. And the state: those two bills got stuck in committee; they didn’t get out. Potentially they’re going to have a study committee to see about how to proceed next year.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something right now to protect ourselves. To say you know that if coal ash is going to come into the landfill, that the landfill would have to notify us, to notify the public to say we’re going to take this in, and this is what we’re going to do with it. One of the bills was to say they couldn’t take in over a certain amount without having a federal [actually state] permit. So we could consider something like that locally. Please.
And again, thank you very much Robin for picking up the trash at the rivers.”
Here’s a LAKE video playlist:
Coal ash at Valdosta City Council and Lowndes County Commission 2017-03-09-14
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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