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State Supreme Court says Agri-Cycle violated water quality law

Ruling keeps Talmo plant closed

POSTED: July 4, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the decision of a Jackson County Superior Court judge and the state’s Environmental Protection Division to close a Talmo wastewater treatment plant.

Agri-Cycle had appealed the Jackson County Superior Court decision. The state Supreme Court originally upheld the Jackson County judge’s ruling in January.

Monday, the state’s high court stated that Agri-Cycle, which was closed with an October 2007 emergency injunction, was in violation of the state’s Water Quality Control Act when Carol Couch, state EPD director, ordered the plant to stop accepting waste for treatment on Aug. 21, 2007, and close within the month.

The EPD alleged, and the courts upheld, that Agri-Cycle never used a pretreatment screening process to remove solids from wastewater and added an additional lagoon without a state permit.

Since 2005, Talmo residents have complained about odors coming from the plant, which processed poultry waste and restaurant grease.

Georgia’s attorney general called the ruling a step forward after a months-long court battle with the Talmo facility.

"Today’s ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court is a significant step forward in the state’s efforts to protect the community as well as the valuable watershed surrounding the Agri-Cycle facility in North Georgia," the state’s Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a prepared statement Monday. "My office has made protecting our state’s natural resources a priority; this litigation is just one part of that overall effort."



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