South Georgia community up in arms over coal ash landfill

An out-of-state waste disposal company wants to dump toxic coal ash into a southeast Georgia landfill riling up residents and elected officials in Wayne County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing plans to build a 250-acre rail yard alongside a landfill off U.S. 301 near the town of Screven. As many as 100 train car loads a day of coal ash and/or municipal waste could end up in the Broadhust Environmental Landfield. Up to 10,000 tons daily of coal ash could be deposited in the landfill.

A decision is expected early next month, angering locals who had no idea until last week that coal ash was headed their way.

“This whole thing blindsided us,” Kevin Copeland, who chairs the Wayne County commission, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday afternoon. “It’s something all of Georgia needs to be concerned with. Do we want to be known as the dumping ground for the East Coast?”

The commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening in Jesup on the coal ash proposal.

Central Virginia Properties, a South Carolina subsidiary of waste giant Republic Services, proposes dumping the ash, produced primarily from the burning of coal in power plants, and other municipal trash into the lined landfill, according to its permit request filed Jan. 4 with the corps.

Its application doesn’t say where the ash — toxic chemicals such as arsenic and selenium — would come from. Copeland and others, though, say ash may come from North Carolina, the scene two years ago of a massive coal ash lagoon breach which sent 39,000 tons of ash into the Dan River.

Republic couldn’t be reached for comment.

Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division must also sign off on the landfill proposal. Copeland and others, though, say neither state nor federal agencies can readily halt the coal ash expansion.

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