Smoke can be seen rising from an unlicensed landfill, located at 7635 Bishop Road, in South Fulton, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Board approves $500K to extinguish 5-month Fulton landfill fire

Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources has approved $500,000 in emergency funds to extinguish a landfill fire that has poured smoke into a South Fulton neighborhood for five months.

The 60-foot-tall mountains of debris in the unlicensed landfill caught fire Sept. 20 about 13 miles southwest of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

State and local authorities describe the owner Tandy Ross Bullock as uncooperative. Despite being jailed twice for his lack of action on the fire, it has continued to burn, leading the state Environmental Protection Division to take action.

Kevin Chambers, EPD spokesman, said Friday that the unanimous vote was to hire a contractor with money from the Georgia Solid Waste Trust Fund, which collects $1 on every new tire sold in the state.

The vote was the only item that required action at the board’s Friday meeting on St. Simons Island. 

The board is comprised of 19 citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

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Smoke can be seen rising from an unlicensed landfill, located at 7635 Bishop Road, in South Fulton, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Authorities said Bullock has been arrested twice for his alleged involvement; the first was on Nov. 19 on a charge of illegal burning and the second was Dec. 6.

Earlier this week, Bullock’s attorneys would not comment on the prospect of state funds being used to extinguish the fire, or on the landfill.

Chambers said the agency is talking to contractors that specialize in snuffing a burn like this at its core.

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The 20-year-old Solid Waste Trust Fund that’ll pay for the contractor was created to clear unattractive piles of tires; if collections of tires catch fire, it can be extremely tough for firefighters to extinguish such blazes.

The efficacy of the fund has come under fire itself in audits over the years. The fund is among those raided by number-crunchers to fill holes in the state budget, according to previous report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

State legislators have regularly pushed for an “anti-bait-and-switch” constitutional amendment that would ensure that the money in the fund is reserved for its stated purpose without being diverted.

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