Macon landfill fails inspection again

State may fine city for repeated lapses

jgaines@macon.comFebruary 11, 2014 

The Macon-Bibb County landfill is still falling below state environmental standards, and this time regulators are talking about serious penalties.

Environmental Specialist Clayton Bristol inspected the Walker Road facility Jan. 23 and found multiple violations, many of which are holdovers from numerous earlier reports, Scott Henson, a program manager with the state Environmental Protection Division, said in a Feb. 4 letter to Mayor Robert Reichert.

“The Division is cognizant of the recent rainfall and made adjustments in the inspection schedule,” Henson wrote. “However, given the number of recurring violations and maintenance issues, the Division has no other alternative than to seek additional enforcement action that will follow shortly after the receipt of this letter.”

In October 2011, the city of Macon was hit with a $35,000 fine for similar landfill violations.

County Manager Dale Walker told Macon-Bibb County commissioners about the failing score of 65 in a written report Tuesday.

In November 2012, for the only time in several years, the landfill passed inspection with a score of 95. A passing score is 75. After that single success, “expectations were high it would be maintained,” Walker wrote.

But several subsequent inspections all drew failing scores. Now, Walker said, he has asked Assistant County Manager Steve Layson to investigate why the same problems keep cropping up.

Facing a possible fine or related action, this time the city wants a serious change, Walker said.

Public Works Director Richard Powell didn’t immediately return a call or email requesting comment Tuesday afternoon.

In February 2012 Reichert fired Powell, calling him incompetent. Powell appealed the firing, and in October 2012 the Macon City Council voted narrowly to overturn his firing. Under the new Macon-Bibb government, department heads have no appeal from firing by the mayor.

Henson’s report cited exposed garbage, standing water, lack of grass, poor grading, even garbage washing into the stream on the south side of the landfill. Daily inspection reports from landfill workers didn’t document the consistent problems.

“Operating the facility in such a manner is a violation of the Permit, the Rules and Regulations for Solid Waste Management, and is considered a serious matter,” he wrote.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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