This week, Forsyth County Commissioners got the ball rolling on a new ordinance aimed at keeping certain hazardous materials out of landfills in the county.
At a work session on Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to move ahead with a public hearing in January on an ordinance prohibiting “the introduction of Coal Ash, Fly Ash, and other by-products of coal-based power generation” and “leachate spraying, misting or aerosolization” at landfills in the county.
The ordinance is the product of conversations with neighbors and stakeholders near Advanced Disposal’s Eagle Point Landfill in northwest Forsyth County.
“This is part of … an overall strategy with respect to Advanced Disposal,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.
Jarrard said the ordinance had a “very narrow mission,” and that coal ash was an umbrella term for the many byproducts of coal production.
In November, the county and the landfill reached an agreement on the expansion, which included the landfill not being able to expand past the boundary of a 1993 agreement and changes to the amount the county will receive from the landfill.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the requirements of the ordinance were not part of a previous agreement, as officials with the landfill wanted the policy to be county-wide instead of only affecting them.
A methane conversion plant, which the landfill company has said is a separate issue, could not move ahead until after the agreement’s approval.
Another issue addressed by the ordinance is leachate — water that has been percolated through a solid and contains some of the contents — spraying or misting, which residents feared would lead to the nearby Etowah River.
Gerald Pouncey, an environmental attorney with Morris, Manning and Martin who was recently retained by the county, said the ordinance would help with the coal ash and leachate concerns.
“I think it addresses the issues that need to be addressed,” he said.
Jarrard said Pouncey will help tweak the ordinance before the hearing.
Brenda Henderson, with the group Stop Trashing Forsyth County and the Etowah, said the group asked for the changes in discussions with the county and landfill.
“The coal ash is one of the main issues that we were concerned about. We don’t want that coal ash in the Etowah River, not to mention trucking it through Forsyth County,” she said. “That stuff is highly, highly toxic and it has to be in air-tight containers to even be transported.”