Swift Creek Landfill violations cited by EPD

The state Environmental Protection Division has noted three violations at Swift Creek Landfill after an investigation into an odor complaint at the private facility, according to EPD documents.

Swift Creek Landfill, located on Davis Road in east Bibb County, has submitted plans for corrective action and odor control to the EPD, and those plans have been sent to the Land Protection Branch for review, said Todd Bethune, manager of the EPD’s west-central district.

Landfill officials say the violations are “over-stated and harsh interpretations of regulations and permit conditions,” according to a letter to the EPD from engineer Timothy Laraway, environmental manager for Swift Creek.

The landfill receives residential garbage from Bibb County through an arrangement with Southland Waste Systems of Georgia. It also receives other waste.

State Rep. Bubber Epps, D-Dry Branch, said he made the odor complaint after several residents contacted him about an unpleasant smell that seemed to be coming from the landfill. A state environmental specialist visited the landfill March 4, according to EPD documents.

“I live in the northern part of Twiggs County, and going from Macon (to) home every day, you can just detect the odor that’s coming from the landfill,” Epps said.

According to a letter sent to landfill officials from the EPD, the environmental specialist found the following violations:

Ÿ The landfill was not properly covered daily.

Ÿ Leachate — a smelly liquid that drains from the garbage — was not properly recirculated through the landfill and records regarding leachate recirculation were incomplete.

Ÿ The working face — where newly arrived waste is brought — was too large, and the tarp being used to cover it was too small.

Covering the landfill at night is the most important factor in reducing odors, EPD officials have said.

Swift Creek Landfill already has made some changes as a result of the investigation, said Will Flower, a Phoenix-based spokesman for Republic Services Inc., which owns the landfill.

The landfill has begun applying additional daily cover — the soil placed over the landfill at night — and is trying to keep the working face tight, while maintaining safety for the trucks that come and go throughout the day, Flower said.

In an April 3 letter to the EPD, Swift Creek Landfill also refutes several of the violations. Failure to cover the landfill on the day of the EPD’s visit was an isolated incident that resulted from equipment failure, according to the letter. The equipment has since been fixed, the letter states.

In addition, landfill officials deny improperly recirculating leachate, although they admit the facility’s records could be improved, according to the letter.

Landfill officials also dispute the EPD’s estimated size of the working face. The working face is covered with a tarp and soil to ensure the whole area is covered, according to the letter.

This is the sixth complaint the EPD has received about the landfill since 2005, Bethune said. In 2003, the landfill installed a system designed to siphon off methane gas following several odor complaints.

That new system is working well, Flower said.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.