Politics & Government

EPD: Macon landfill makes significant strides since failed inspections

Crews dump and bury garbage high above the swamps of south Bibb County at the city landfill.
Crews dump and bury garbage high above the swamps of south Bibb County at the city landfill. bcabell@macon.com

The latest inspection of the main Macon landfill reveals considerable upgrades since the site failed two inspections earlier this year.

An Aug. 18 letter from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division said the Walker Swamp Road landfill has resolved the majority of its violations. In the previous two inspections, the landfill was cited for an array of issues, culminating on June 17 with a score of 50, which is 25 points lower than a passing grade.

“The (Aug. 4) inspection revealed significant improvements in the operation of the landfill and the maintenance of the facility’s operational records,” Clayton Bristol, EPD environmental specialist, wrote in the letter to Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert.

Among the changes at the landfill have been the addition of survey markers, ditches cleared of debris and the removal of woody vegetation.

Work is underway to remedy the final violation remaining by regrading three slopes, Macon-Bibb Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley said Friday.

“Once we get them completed, we can put erosion control measures in place and get them revegetated,” he said.

The June 17 inspection was a follow-up after the landfill received a score of 70 -- five points away from passing -- in April. The Aug. 4 visit did not involve scoring the landfill and was only to check on the changes, said Todd Bethune, district manager of the EPD West Central office in Macon.

“We’re about at the end of things we asked to be fixed,” he said. “Once we get the (grading) resolved, the landfill will be scheduled for inspections like any other site.”

Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said many of the problems at the main landfill should not have become as serious as they did since they involved daily maintenance.

“I think we’re going to be keeping up with a passing score from now on,” he said.

Three solid waste employees, included two landfill supervisors, were fired or demoted earlier this summer due to the violations at the landfill.

While the main landfill has undergone improvements, a nearby inert landfill will close within six months. The 15-acre landfill, that stores items such as concrete, dirt and asphalt, did not meet new EPD guidelines since it falls within the flood plain of the Ocmulgee River, according to an EPD letter.

The landfill will be covered with two feet of soil while long-term options such as recycling and composting much of that material are being examined, Barkley said.

A plan presented in April recommends shutting down the main landfill, although it would take $9.3 million and five years to do so.

Information from the Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.