Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb to get 30-day extension to address landfill issues

Macon-Bibb County officials must fix a number of problems at its main landfill after failing a recent inspection.

According to a May 4 letter sent to the city from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the landfill received a rating of 70 during an April 22 inspection. A score of 75 is considered to be a passing grade.

Macon-Bibb officials asked the DNR for 30 days to fix the problems listed in the report. Todd Bethune, district manager for the DNR, said the agency will grant the city the extra time.

The letter noted a number of issues, including:

Adequate daily cover wasn’t being applied, resulting in exposed waste;

Erosion control measures aren’t being maintained, resulting in numerous ruts throughout the landfill;

Adequate amounts of soil weren’t being maintained for fire protection and daily cover;

Woody vegetation was observed in numerous areas of the landfill;

Several areas were not graded in accordance with the approved plan, resulting in erosion or pooling water;

At least three large outbreaks of leachates -- water containing contaminants -- and several smaller outbreaks were observed;

One of the methane gas wells is missing an air control valve and was sucking air into the system.

The letter noted that several of the items have been recurring issues at the landfill.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said Wednesday that officials are working to address the problems. He said Solid Waste Department Director Kevin Bark­ley is making personnel changes to address some of the problems.

Reichert said he wants the city to close the landfill, which he described Wednesday as a “monstrosity” and an “environmental disaster.”

“This one is one of the most inefficient ways to dispose of garbage,” he said. “You can’t have a more ineffective model than that.”

Reichert noted that the Macon-Bibb County Commission was presented with a solid waste management plan last month that recommends closing the landfill. The proposed plan includes building a transfer station as part of a greater effort on recycling while disposing of solid waste in another county’s landfill.

Also last month, the city was cited for improper unlicensed surface mining after it removed too much dirt from a site, exposing previously buried solid waste.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.