Litigation continues between the Agri-Cycle waste recycling plant in Talmo and the state’s Environmental Protection Division following the EPD’s recent visit to the plant, according to Jackson County officials.
At the District 3 town hall meeting Nov. 17 at the Talmo Depot, Jackson County Commissioner Bruce Yates and Planning Manager Gina Mitsdarffer gave an update on the case.
"Basically, the EPD made a visit several weeks ago." Yates said. "Of course, everything is in their (EPD’s) hands from this point forward. They visited a couple of weeks ago ... and are just trying to move the process forward. Litigation takes time."
Mitsdarffer said that during the EPD’s visit two weeks ago, they found that the water in the treatment ponds is high, but is not threatening to top dams just yet. Also, the pump equipment, which can be used to reduce the amount of water in the ponds, has been removed.
One of the county’s concerns in this case is how the litigation will impact Agri-Cycle financially, both officials noted.
"The big thing is what Bruce said at the (town hall) meeting — we don’t want to push too much because Agri-Cycle could go into bankruptcy," Mitsdarffer said Thursday. "It falls back to EPD for cleanup (if Agri-Cycle declares bankruptcy), and they don’t have any money in the budget for that. We don’t want Agri-Cycle to go bankrupt."
The plant first became the subject of a state investigation in 2007 when a treatment pond caught fire. Following a hearing in September 2007, Piedmont Superior Court Judge David Motes granted the state a temporary restraining order to halt the plant’s operations, according to a January 2008 news release from the state Attorney General’s office.
Motes also issued an injunction in October 2007 that "prevented the operation of the facility until Agri-Cycle came into compliance with state environmental laws," the release notes.
Agri-Cycle then filed motions in Georgia Supreme Court and Jackson County Superior Court, asking to lift the injunction or have the state post a bond to pay for the profit losses incurred during the appeal process.
The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the Jackson County judge’s ruling in January 2008 and again in July 2008 to close the plant.
Staff writer Ashley Fielding
contributed to this report.