The Broadhurst Environmental Landfill near Jesup. Curtis Compton /

Georgia landfill leak bill passes House 163-0

The House on Monday unanimously passed HB 1028 requiring the state to alert residents and local governments when a landfill leaks.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), comes a few weeks after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a landfill near Jesup in southeast Georgia leached coal ash residue, including beryllium and other heavy metals, into the soil and groundwater.

The leakage at the Broadhurst Environmental Landfill was first reported to the state Environmental Protection Division in December 2011. More than two years passed before the landfill operator shuttered the coal ash facilities, according to EPD files.

State officials said that the metals, which could cause cancer and damage to the nervous system in sufficient quantities, may have also leached into the ground months, if not years, earlier. It’s not clear how much of the toxic metals leached into the ground, nor how far they might have traveled.

Republic Services, a national solid waste disposal company, began an extensive cleanup of the ash leakage last fall, and the EPD says there’s no evidence the metals have reached nearby wetlands

HB 1028 would require the EPD to tell landfill neighbors and local governments when a new landfill permit is requested; when a permit is later changed; and whenever “evidentiary indication of a violation” occurs.

“I am thankful for my House colleagues who have supported me in helping citizens become more aware when adverse actions happen with regard to landfills,” Rep. Werkheiser told the AJC.

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