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Hall to hold public hearing on plan to reduce landfill odor

POSTED: August 5, 2013 5:51 p.m.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing Thursday before voting on an odor mitigation plan for the Gainesville Waste and Recycling landfill.

The landfill, owned by Ken Cronan, a business partner of Gov. Nathan Deal, sparked controversy last year when residents living by the landfill complained about odors. It turned out the operation was composting food waste, for which it was not zoned, according to county officials.

The company now wants to open a new area of the landfill by removing and disposing of the old trash and filling that area with construction and demolition debris, as well as inert waste. The commission must approve the plan before excavating can move forward.

“The plan is to go in and remove the old waste, take it and recycle out of it what can be recycled,” said Bill Hodges of Hodges, Harbin, Newberry and Tribble Inc., engineering consultants for GWAR. “The idea is to remove the source of potential contamination and the odor mitigation plan essentially is set up so there’s six steps if there is any odor.”

The strategy to reduce the smell calls for using a daily cover of soil or tarp. If there’s a major odor, the steps require reducing the size of the working area, re-covering the waste until other methods of excavation can reduce the odor, delaying work until there’s favorable weather conditions and using chemicals to mask the odor.

“Mr. Chairman, I think this is something that we could probably put on the consent agenda,” Commissioner Craig Lutz said. “But considering the public interest that we’ve had in the past, I would actually recommend that we probably hold a public hearing on this particular issue in case anybody from the public wants to (speak).”

The landfill was a county landfill that was closed around 1984, County Engineer Kevin McInturff said.

Cronan received his initial permit for the landfill in 2010 and received modifications to Georgia Environmental Protection Division permits to compost waste and then compost food waste in late 2011 and early 2012.

Former Board Chairman Tom Oliver wrote two letters to the EPD that said the proposed composting complied with local zoning, land use ordinances and the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

The commission approved sending a clarifying letter to EPD in December.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe, who has the landfill in his district, said he hasn’t heard any complaints about an odor from the landfill since March. At that time, he visited the landfill and didn’t notice much of an odor until he was directly onsite, he said.

Stowe asked county staff to provide more information on odor control at other landfills, but he said he felt comfortable with the presentation he received during the work session.

“From what (Hodges) told us, it doesn’t look like that’s going to cause any odor problems either,” he said. “Yes, that does make me feel a little more comfortable.”


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