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Commissioners approve new rules for local landfills
Eagle Point Landfill

Forsyth County Commissioners took steps this week to address issues surrounding a north Forsyth County landfill.

At a regular meeting on Tuesday, Forsyth County Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a new ordinance banning the introduction of coal ash and the spraying, misting and aerosolizing of leachate — water that has gone through a solid and absorbed some of its contents — at landfills in the county. 

Though applying to all local landfills, the ordinance is the latest in discussions between the county, residents and Advanced Disposal Service’s Eagle Point Landfill.

“I’m sure the board of commissioners is very aware this is a byproduct of our lengthy negotiations with Advanced Disposal,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “This is one of the ordinances that is a part of those negotiations.”

Under the ordinance, all “coal combustion residuals,” or items generated from the burning of coal for electricity, are banned including “fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag and flue gas desulfurization materials” are banned in the county.

While many ways of dealing with leachate are banned, using a process to evaporate leachate is not. Jarrard and several speakers in the evening’s public hearing said the landfill had pushed to leave evaporation, though Jarrard said the landfill does not currently have plans for evaporation. 

“It is something that Advanced doesn’t want to close the door on [but] doesn’t want to pursue right now,” Jarrard said. 

At the meeting, several county residents spoke out against the evaporations.

“We think the coal ash ban is the right thing to do. However, we do have a lot of concerns about this leachate evaporator,” said Bruce Urtz, who said he lived near the landfill. “What it is is basically taking the garbage juice that drains out of a landfill and boiling it into the air.”

Some members also wanted to see more air testing, but Jarrard said an environmental attorney hired to look at the issues surrounding landfills had said the county would have issues with enforcement.  

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she was impressed with how much the landfill and county were able to agree on since the county did not have much leverage in the discussion.

“When we started off with all this, I never dreamed we would have got so much,” she said. “I’m happy that Advanced has been willing. We don’t hold their permit. We didn’t really have anything to leverage.”

Issues surrounding the landfill have been a hot topic over the last year.

In December, the county approved a memorandum of understanding with the landfill, and part of that agreement included that the landfill would not challenge the ordinance unless there were substantial changes.

In November, the county and landfill reached an agreement for the landfill’s expansion stipulating the landfill could not expand past the footprint of an agreement approved in 1993. 

At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners also approved Enerdyne Power Systems Inc., as a consultant to look at specifications and plans for a proposed methane conversion facility. 

A rezoning of land for a methane conversion plant at the landfill was on the meeting’s agenda but was postponed to the first regular meeting in March.