Please sign our petition in support Haralson County Commissioners efforts to minimize landfill needs by maximizing recycling, composting, and reuse. 

Courts Uphold Megalandfill Defeat!!!

In March 2022, the Haralson County, Georgia County Commissioners denied approval for a massive and unneeded landfill. The applicant appealed the denial to the Georgia courts hoping to overturn it.

In August 2023, the appeal failed. Following is a message from the Haralson County Alliance for Responsible Waste Management regarding how this victory was won. And this victory would not have been possible without the continuing support of the County Commissioners, as described in the press release posted at: https://app.box.com/s/wgk3h02lixcukx5fil1ujqqar6lld9k9.


THE LANDFILL FIGHT IS OVER, AND THE CITIZENS OF HARALSON COUNTY HAVE WON!!!  The Haralson Alliance would like to thank you all for your wonderful support in fighting the Solid Solutions proposed mega-landfill in Haralson County!  In large part, because of your support, and the work of so many, the Haralson County Commission Board has entered into an agreement to purchase from Solid Solutions the land that was previously under consideration for the mega-landfill(The attached Press Release from the Commissioners was posted by Commissioner John Daniel on Facebook, 8-15-23, and provides more information about the purchase and potential plans for the property.)

 The Haralson Alliance would like to thank Richard Klein of Community & Environmental Defense Services, https://ceds.org/about-ceds/, who began assisting us early in the fight at a very minimal cost.  In addition to many other activities, Mr. Klein set up the online petition which we were able to use as a vehicle to organize and provide your valuable feedback to the County Commissioners and to our attorneys.  The Haralson Alliance is also grateful for our attorneys, Don Stack and Jaclyn Brass, of Stack & Associates, https://www.stackenvirolaw.com/, who worked with many experts in the field to put together economic and environmental studies, among many other items, to provide our County Officials with data needed to make the right decision for Haralson County.

We also wish to express our deep appreciation for the Haralson County Zoning Board and Commissioners for not only listening to the Citizens, but for also conducting their due diligence in determining what was right for the County; and then fighting the legal battles, and ultimately securing an agreement to end the possibility of a mega-landfill once and for all!

Finally, and most importantly, we acknowledge and thank God for answering the prayers of so many in this fight.  From the start, and even until the end, there were many naysayers who claimed there was no way we could stop this landfill.  But with prayers and faith of so many, along with hard work and dedication, the Good Lord helped us to prevail!

Again, thank you for your unwavering support!  When you see them, please express appreciation to our Commissioners for finding a way to bring this threat to a close.

Haralson Alliance for Responsible Waste Management, Johnny Wright & Scott Cosper, Co-Chairs

We Won!!!

Haralson Commissioners Reject Megalandfill

On March 1st the Haralson County Commissioners voted 5-0 to DENY  approval for what would have become the largest landfill in Georgia.

This battle started two years ago.  Those concerned about the megalandfill formed the Haralson County Alliance for Responsible Waste Management.

CEDS was retained to assist in forming a strategy to protect County residents from landfill impacts. Our recommended strategy centered on minimizing the need for a landfill by maximizing source reduction, recycling, composting and other measures that could slash waste volume by 30% to 80%.  Fortunately, Georgia and other southeast states have the largest concentration in the U.S. of industries utilizing recyclables as feedstock.  Unfortunately, recycling is stymied by the abundance of landfills in Georgia and low landfill tipping fees.  The proposed megalandfill would have exacerbate this problem.

CEDS created a webpage providing the science regarding landfill impacts and waste reduction benefits: https://ceds.org/hcarwm/.   We also compiled a detailed, 44-page analysis of potential impacts:  https://app.box.com/s/ejm4y1sw5yuexkt646nxkel9i4ztzn4y.  The CEDS analysis formed the basis for a substantial portion of the testimony that prompted the County Commissioners to nix the megalandfill.

CEDS also assisted the Alliance in finding and engaging the Georgia law firm that had stopped more poorly planned waste facilities than any other in that state: Stack & Associates.

Landfill battles are seldom won with just expert witnesses and attorneys.  A showing of strong public opposition and, preferably, an equally strong showing of support for landfill alternatives is frequently of even greatest importance in achieving victory.

To this end, CEDS assisted the Alliance in launching a petition drive that eventually gathered signatures from an amazing 15% of all Haralson County residents!  Two-thirds of the online petition signers provided reasons why they believed the megalandfill was wrong for Haralson County.  These articulate and well-founded reasons were a key factor prompting the vote of Planning Commission denial recommendation.

Following is a link to the testimony submitted by Alliance leader Johnny Wright: https://app.box.com/s/dj6r2j0tlhrwacxvudegtu5pjxhgf6af

And here key points regarding the impact of the megalandfill on Haralson quality of life:

  • The megalandfill will cause homeowners within at least two miles to lose up to 13% of their property value,
  • Megalandfill odors may occasionally force those living up to three miles away to keep their windows closed,
  • Those living within two miles may suffer a slight, but significant increase in low-birth weight, cancer and other adverse health effects,
  • The megalandfill will eventually reach an elevation of 1400-feet becoming the fourth highest point in Haralson County,
  • Clearing 1500-acres (2 sq miles) of forest around the megalandfill will make it far more visible throughout southwestern Haralson County,
  • The megalandfill is near the County’s I-20/GA100 industrial park area and could make it difficult to attract more high-paying employers like Honda Precision Parts,
  • The megalandfill would also make it more difficult to shift Haralson waste management from burying trash to turning it into jobs through recycling, reuse, composting, etc.
  • Massive soil erosion from clearing nearly 1,500 acres of forest and then burying 24 million tons of trash over 300-acres would:
    • Cause numerous area residents to forever question the quality of their well water,
    • Destroy extensive wildlife habitat, and
    • Degrade some of the highest quality and most sensitive Haralson streams.

This battle has cost $160,000 thus far, of which the Alliance has raised $140,000.  While almost all of these funds went to legal expenses, the Alliance considers this money well spent.  Donations are still needed may still be made by check payable to Haralson Alliance, PO Box 501, Tallapoosa GA 30176, or by credit card via PayPal at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=HD3TNDLHUS8QU.  Please note the donations are NOT tax deductible.

What is the Haralson County Alliance for Responsible Waste Management?

The Alliance was formed by many of the one in twenty Haralson County residents whose homes are located in the vicinity of the massive landfill proposed by Solid Solutions.  The Alliance has since grown to include an ever increasing number of people living throughout Haralson County.  Thus far 1,543 people have either registered their landfill concerns with the Haralson County Commissioners or signed the Alliance petition.  Each yellow dot on the aerial below represents the homes where these 1,543 people live.  The reasons why so many Haralson County residents are opposed to the landfill can be seen at: https://ceds.org/haralson-comments-9-7-2020/

In a June 4, 2020 letter, Solid Solutions stated the landfill would occupy a 300-acre area within 2,000 acres they hope to acquire.  We believe the 2,000 acres is the area bounded by the yellow line below.

After speaking with leading experts, we learned that landfilling waste is, well, a waste.  This opinion is shared by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as reflected in the following from DCA’s Solid Waste & Recycling webpage:

“The Recycling industry is big business in Georgia, yet every year, Georgians collectively pay more than $100 million to bury [landfill] raw materials worth nearly $300 million to manufacturers based right here in our state. Those manufacturing feedstocks are also known as recyclable material, and about 40 percent of what Georgians set out as ‘garbage’ could have been recycled.”

While there may be an ongoing need for landfilling wastes that cannot be recycled, the Polk County landfill that currently receives Haralson County waste has sufficient capacity for the next 27- to 50-years.  Given that there’s no immediate need for a new landfill, the Alliance is urging the County Commissioners to postpone a decision on the Solid Solutions proposal while all options are thoroughly considered through a comprehensive update of the 2008 Haralson County Solid Waste Plan.  More on this in the next section of this webpage.

For further information on the Alliance contact co-chairs Scott Cosper of Tallapoosa (theoverlookvenue@gmail.com 770-815-0322) or Johnny Wright (johnny@crinsure.net 770-832-2461).

The Alliance founders have engaged Community & Environmental Defense Services (CEDS).  CEDS has helped communities throughout the U.S. preserve their quality of life from inappropriate waste facilities and other land uses.  It may also be necessary to engage a law firm.  These expenses and others will be essential to ensuring Haralson County chooses the most responsible solid waste options.  Please consider supporting our effort to preserve Haralson County as a great place to live by making a contribution.  Checks should be made payable to: HCARWM and mailed to: HCARWM, Post Office Box 501, Tallapoosa, Georgia 30176.  Or, click the Donate button below to make a contribution by credit card.

Haralson County Solid Waste Plan Out of Date

Georgia law requires that counties and cities adopt a solid waste plan covering a minimum of a ten year period.  Georgia law also states that a new landfill and most other waste handling facilities can only be approved if they are included in a solid waste plan.

The current Haralson County, Georgia Multi-Jurisdictional Solid Waste Management Plan was published in 2008 and only covered the period of 2007 to 2017.  Some of the data upon which the plan was based is 20 years old.

Solid waste management has changed dramatically over the past two decades.  We have learned that these changes offer the opportunity to convert the materials generated in Haralson County into new jobs bolstering both the local and regional economy.  These benefits can be achieved without saddling current and future residents with the largest landfill in Georgia.

The 2008 plan indicated that much of the 6.5 pounds of waste generated daily by each County resident would end up in a landfill. Experts tell us that today that, as a national average, a third of wastes are kept out of landfills through recycling, composting, reuse, and other measures.

The Waste Reduction Element of the 2008 Plan began with the following:

“Georgia is home to some of the strongest recycling markets in the nation, yet these industries must purchase and import raw materials from all over North America to support their operations while Georgia’s material recovery infrastructure declines. Georgians annually dispose of 2.6 million tons of common recyclable materials with an estimated market value of over $250 million. Local government reports from 1998 to 2003 reflect a 12% decline in recycling services available in their community. With over 26 years of permitted disposal capacity throughout the state, landfill tipping fees remain highly competitive, increasing the challenge many local governments face in maintaining or implementing aggressive recycling programs. The State plays a very important role in assisting local governments and the recycling industry to strengthen recycling infrastructure and is supporting key initiatives to increase recycling rates throughout the state.

Waste reduction in this county and its cities appeared to be minimal. Haulers do not do any recycling pick up.”

It is very sad that this last sentence is still true today, except for curbside recyclables collection in Bremen. This points to the urgent need to adopt a new solid waste plan that will set us on the course for maximizing the many benefits of recycling, composting, reuse and other waste reduction measures; not a massive landfill that will serve as a powerful disincentive to these more socially and environmentally responsible approaches.

Tremendous Opportunities to Turn Waste into Wealth

As noted above, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Solid Waste & Recycling section considers recycling and other landfill alternatives an opportunity too good to continue missing:

“The Recycling industry is big business in Georgia, yet every year, Georgians collectively pay more than $100 million to bury [landfill] raw materials worth nearly $300 million to manufacturers based right here in our state. Those manufacturing feedstocks are also known as recyclable material, and about 40 percent of what Georgians set out as ‘garbage’ could have been recycled.”

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is one of the leading think-tanks in the U.S. when it comes to turning waste into wealth. A number of Alliance members recently benefitted from a long conference call with Institute director and co-founder Dr. Neil Seldman. We learned that in addition to the DCA estimate that 40% of what is landfilled can be recycled, another 40% can be composted. In other words, as much as 80% of the materials we currently landfill could be turned into a profitable material.

The Alliance also spoke with experts at the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC).  The following map from the SERDC website shows the tremendous number of industries that already exist in Georgia and adjoining states that turn recyclables into wealth.  Each of the triangles below is a company that utilizes recyclables as feed stock for producing carpeting and many other products.

One Example of Many Options: County Transfer Station Upgrade to Produce Saleable Products

Dr. Seldman, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, suggested that instead of building a new municipal landfill, Haralson County should consider upgrading our existing transfer station. The upgrades would include processes for removing recyclables, organics and other materials from the waste stream thereby greatly reducing the quantity of waste to be hauled to Polk County.

Dr. Seldman said there were a number of companies that specialize in these processes which might have interest in operating at the Haralson County transfer station.  In addition to the many local companies shown in the map above, there are a long list of others that may have interest in setting up shop at the transfer station or elsewhere in our region.

An excellent example is Saint Vincent DePaul of Lane, Oregon. They have ten operations on the east coast and are always looking for new locations.

Here are a few more examples of how a shift in Haralson County solid waste management practices would benefit employment and the economy.

About 40% of what is currently called waste is food and other organic materials. There are many examples of local programs to turn organics into saleable products through composting. For every 10,000 tons of organics composted, six sorting jobs are created. Many more employment opportunities result from processing and distributing these products.

The Alachua County, Florida transfer station is located next to a 40-acre industrial park. Space within the park is reserved for recycling, composting, and reuse companies. Urban Ore is a great example of the type of company that would be attracted to such a facility, were it created at the existing County transfer station. At one Urban Ore site, their crews pull out recyclables and get a service fee equal to what it would have cost to landfill the recyclables – $47/ton.

Largest Georgia Landfill???

In a June 4th letter to Haralson County residents, Solid Solutions stated that their proposed landfill would have an area of 300 acres on a 2,000-acre site. According to a March 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spreadsheet, the largest landfill in Georgia is 210 acres on a 560-acre site. Therefore, the landfill proposed by Solid Solutions would start as the largest in Georgia with 1,700 acres on which to expand for decades to come.

It is far more difficult to prevent a landfill from expanding when compared to ensuring it is the best solid waste management option in the first place. It is for this and many other reasons that the Alliance urges the Haralson County Board of County Commissioners to postpone major decisions, including action on the Solid Solutions proposal, until a comprehensive solid waste plan rewrite is completed.  It is only through such a comprehensive analysis that the best option for future Haralson County residents can be identified.

Potential Waste Facility Impacts

Following is a summary of the possible adverse effects associated with landfills as well as the recycling, composting, and other processing facilities suggested in this webpage.  The potential for each of these adverse effects should be thoroughly evaluated as part of a comprehensive review of Haralson County solid waste management options.  Measures should then be recommended for resolving each impact.  It is only through such a thorough, open review process that Haralson County elected officials and taxpayers can select the best option to preserve their quality of life and that of their children – and grand children.

Landfill Air Pollution & Public Health

Most of the solid waste from our homes, businesses, schools, etc. goes to a municipal landfill.  Highly toxic waste can go to a hazardous waste landfill.  Debris from building projects and raising existing structures may go to a construction and demolition debris landfill.  And incinerator or power plant residue will likely end up in fly ash landfill.

The potential public health effects of these and other landfill types differs.  The focus of this document is the first category – the municipal landfill.  Most of the adverse health effects are attributable to pollutants released to the air.

Many experts believe that 80% or more of wastes traditionally buried in a municipal landfill could be turned into marketable products via recycling, composting and other processes.  In fact, a number of counties and cities have adopted Zero Waste plans for ending the need to bury or burn municipal waste over a decade or so.  Ironically, one of the factors holding back efforts to end the need for landfills are landfills themselves.

In a number of cases it’s cheaper to bury waste then to set up the collection and processing facilities required to recycle and compost waste then deliver it to locations where these materials can be put to constructive use.  A missing factor from waste management decision-making is the public health costs of landfills.  In this webpage section we provide facts that those concerned about landfills impacts can use to demand factoring in this cost.

In the interest of full disclosure, the author of this webpage – CEDS president Richard Klein – is not an expert on landfills or public health.  And some might say that I make money by helping those concerned about landfills.

Below is the title of 14 scientific papers regarding the health effects of compounds released from landfills to the atmosphere.  Clicking on the blue title will take you to the actual study.  Following the title is my take on the key findings from each paper that are relevant to the public health effects of landfill emissions. A more detailed document posted at the following link contains the abstract from each paper so the reader can further judge the accuracy of my interpretation of the key relevant findings: https://ceds.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Municipal-Landfill-Air-Pollution-Public-Health.pdf

Most papers include contact information for the researchers.  You should feel free to contact the researchers about the relevancy of their findings to your situation.

A portion of the research addressed in the 14 papers was conducted at landfills that do not benefit from current protection measures like impermeable liners and caps, gas collection and treatment systems, and exclusion of toxic-hazardous waste.  On the other hand, as liners and caps fail and collection-treatment system age, the impact of a modern landfill could come to resemble, over time, that of an older facility.

A 2003 paper noted the need to determine if, in fact, new control measures did resolve health impact concerns.  It appears that the studies needed to make this determination have not been published.  In a 2009 paper it was reported that odorous compounds concentrations emitted from facilities in France and Poland were affected by “failures of the landfill gas collection system, heavy truck traffic, machinery operations and compacting fresh waste.”  Detection of odors has been linked to adverse health effects among those living near landfills.

Another issue possibly affecting the applicability of these papers to conditions in the U.S. is that a number of the landfills were carried out in other countries.  Waste composition and control measures may differ in other countries.  Frankly, it is somewhat disconcerting that relatively few studies have been done in the U.S.  Lastly, many of the researchers who noted adverse effects called for more thorough investigations to verify their findings.  Unfortunately, it appears these more rigorous studies seldom occur.

Now that all the qualifications are covered, you’ll find that many of these papers noted a small but statistically significant increased risk of adverse health effects among those living up to two-miles from municipal landfills.  Adverse health effects may also be experienced by those living along the route travelled by trucks hauling waste to regional landfills.

Adverse effects range from nausea to low-birth weight to cancer.

The bottom line is that while we’ll need landfills for the next decade or two, it is imperative that we rapidly expand recycling, composting and other approaches that reduce the need to bury 80% or more of the waste we currently landfill.  Otherwise we’ll simply be exposing more of our neighbors – who are likely to live in minority or low-income areas – to adverse health effects and a poorer quality of life.

Lastly, I have a favor to ask of you.  Please forward any other research studies which should be included I this document.

Relation between malodor, ambient hydrogen sulfide, and health in a community bordering a landfill: In this 2011 paper, researchers reported that odors from a North Carolina municipal landfill were strongly associated with alteration of daily activities like going outside, negative mood states, mucosal irritation, and upper respiratory symptoms.  These adverse effects were experienced by those living at least 0.75 miles from the landfill.  The researchers provided the following:

“Although newer landfills may be better designed and operated than older facilities, communities near some Subtitle D landfills continue to report problems with noise, malodor, and animal pests. In the USA (Martuzzi et al., 2010) and North Carolina (Norton et al., 2007), landfills tend to be disproportionately located in areas with lower housing value and larger concentrations of people of color. Poorer housing, lack of air conditioning and clothes driers, and dependence on the local neighborhood for recreation, make low income communities more vulnerable to impacts of pollutants than communities with well-insulated homes where residents have the means to travel to other locations for exercise and entertainment at times when their homes and neighborhoods are affected by malodor.”

Options for management of municipal solid waste in New York City: a preliminary comparison of health risks and policy implicationsIn this 2008 paper the researchers compared health risks of New York City Waste-To-Energy (WTE) incinerators to a regional, municipal landfill in Pennsylvania.  The researchers also examined health risks among the population exposed to waste as it was transported to a regional landfill.  They concluded: “The overall results indicate that the individual cancer risks for both options would be considered generally acceptable, although the risk from landfilling is approximately 5 times greater than from WTE treatment; the individual non-cancer health risks for both options would be considered generally unacceptable, although once again the risk from landfilling is approximately 5 times greater than from WTE treatment.”

Systematic review of epidemiological studies on health effects associated with management of solid waste:  In this 2009 paper, British and Italian researchers concluded that there was limited evidence that those living within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of old landfills were at higher risk for congenital anomalies and low birth weight based on peer-reviewed literature published between 1983 and 2008.

Health hazards and waste management:  In this 2003 literature review of 48 studies, a British researcher found there was insufficient information to assess the effect of new waste disposal technologies on mitigating health impacts.

Analysis of odorous compounds at municipal landfill sites:  In this 2009 paper, researchers reported that odorous compound concentrations from facilities in France and Poland were affected by “failures of the landfill gas collection system, heavy truck traffic, machinery operations and compacting fresh waste.”

Health Effects of Residence Near Hazardous Waste Landfill Sites: A Review of Epidemiologic Literature: In this 2000 paper, a British researcher reviewed 76 epidemiologic studies and noted that a hazardous waste landfill can pose a greater threat to public health than one accepting only municipal waste.  However, it is unclear whether the studies included in this literature review were focused on landfills in general or just those restricted to hazardous waste.  While increased symptoms of adverse health effects – fatigue, sleepiness, headaches – were reported by those living near landfills, the researcher noted the need for more rigorous study.

Influence of a municipal solid waste landfill in the surrounding environment: Toxicological risk and odor nuisance effects: In this 2014 paper, Italian researchers reviewed the findings from 61 other studies and noted the possibility that area residents would be exposed to potentially toxic compounds and nuisances such as odors.  The researchers studied emissions from a landfill located in Italy.  They found that risks for cancer and non-cancer were orders of magnitude below Word Health Organization acceptable levels.

Environmental Stressors: The Mental Health Impacts of Living Near Industrial Activity: In this 2005 paper, researchers used U.S. Census and Toxic Release Inventory data to assess the mental health effects of living near a number of “industrial activities” including landfills.  The researchers found that living close to industrial activities has a negative impact on mental health.  They also found the impact is greater for minorities and the poor.

Public perception of odour and environmental pollution attributed to MSW treatment and disposal facilities: A case study:  In this 2013 paper, researchers reported that once an Italian landfill closed area residents reported fewer odors.

Residential Proximity to Environmental Hazards and Adverse Health Outcomes:  This 2011 paper, presented a review of the numerous environmental hazards – including landfills – that may adversely affect public health.  The authors concluded: “Government agencies should consider these findings in establishing rules and permitting and enforcement procedures to reduce pollution from environmentally burdensome facilities and land uses.”

Risk of adverse birth outcomes in populations living near landfill sites:  In this 2001 paper, British researchers reported a small excess risk of congenital anomalies and low and very low birth weight in populations living with 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of municipal landfills.

Risk of congenital anomalies after the opening of landfill sites:  In this 2005 paper, British researchers reported an increased risk of births with congenital malformations among those living within 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) of landfills.  The researchers cautioned though: “Causal inferences are difficult because of possible biases from incomplete case ascertainment, lack of data on individual-level exposures, and other socioeconomic and lifestyle factors that may confound a relationship with area of residence.”

Adverse pregnancy outcomes near landfill sites in Cumbria, northwest England, 1950-1993: In this 2003 paper, British researchers reported an increased risk of death from “other congenital anomalies of nervous system” for those living near a landfill.

Incidence of cancer among persons living near a municipal solid waste landfill site in Montreal, Québec:  In this 1995 paper, Canadian researchers reported an elevated risk of cancer among those living in the landfill vicinity.

Noise Impacts of Landfills, Transfer Stations, Etc.

Sound that disturbs the peacefulness of your home is an apt description of noise. Excessive noise from both landfills and transfer stations can make it difficult to relax, concentrate or share a conversation with others. Early morning or late-night noise can disrupt sleep. With regard to landfills and transfer stations, the most common noises are from back-up beepers and the clang of tail gates slamming against heavy truck bodies. Public address systems are occasionally another source of noise.  Noise from trucks traveling to and from waste facilities can affect many more area residents.

In a 2010 report, the National Academy of Engineering cited back-up beepers as one of the top six noise sources associated with behavioral and emotional consequences. Backup beepers and slamming tailgates top the federal Department of Transportation’s list of nighttime construction noise sources.

Alternatives are available to traditional back-up beepers, such as white-noise devices which may be even more effective but cause less disturbance to area residents. The Federal Highway Administration recommended four actions to reduce noise from slamming tailgates:

  • Establish truck clean out staging areas far from homes,
  • Use rubber gaskets,
  • Decrease speed of closure, or
  • Use bottom dump trucks.

Odor Impacts of Landfills, Transfer Stations, Etc.

Generally, municipal waste odors are not too bad. But when the odors are bad they can be offensive at a distance of up to four or five miles. Gypsum wallboard in construction and demolition can release hydrogen-sulfide which has an odor of rotten eggs if it becomes wet in a low-oxygen environment. This sulfurous odor has been smelled up to three miles away. Some industrial or other “putresible” wastes can be pretty horrendous, like those from food processing or sewage treatment plants.

Landfill operators are required to cover wastes with a layer of earth at the end of each day.  This daily cover usually keeps odors down. Some of the worst odors occur when its necessary to dig into a landfill to repair liner leaks or broken gas collection piping.

Deodorants and odor neutralizers are used to reduce nauseating smells. But an active gas extraction system is the most reliable means of controlling landfill odors.  However, the system is only effective if well maintained over decades. 

Property Value Impacts of Landfills, Transfer Stations, Etc.

If a landfill or transfer station can be seen, heard or smelled from a home then it probably lowers resale value. Property value can also be depressed if landfills and transfer stations cannot be seen, heard or smelled but a large number of trucks travelling to or from the facility pass by a home.

Most studies find that property value increases 5% for each additional mile separating a home from a landfill.  For example, a study of three Pennsylvania landfills found that adjacent homes sold for 13% less than comparable houses not located near a landfill. A study of five Ohio landfills concluded that property value is lowered by 3% to 7% in the vicinity of a landfill.

Truck Traffic Impacts of Landfills, Transfer Stations, Etc.

Landfills and transfer stations generate a tremendous amount of truck traffic. An increase in heavy truck traffic can lower property value and increase accidents as well as noise. The noise alone can substantially lower property value when truck traffic increases. The noise from heavy truck traffic lowers property value at a rate 30 to 50 times greater than cars. This is because at 50 feet heavy trucks emit noise 16 times louder than car traffic. While large trucks account for just 4% of registered vehicles they were involved in 9% of fatal crashes.

In a 2008 study, researchers noted an increased cancer risk among those along the routes traveled by trucks hauling waste to a regional municipal landfill.  However, the increase was one additional cancer case per 39 million people.

Water Pollution Impacts of Landfills, Transfer Stations, Etc.

When rain or snowmelt enters a landfill and mixes with decomposing waste a highly-contaminated liquid known as leachate can form.  This 2002 review of 128 papers listed 133 chemicals detected in the liquid (leachate) formed when water passes through the waste contained in a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill.  These chemicals can be toxic to aquatic life and may pose a threat to human health including cancer.  This literature review noted that the chemical composition of leachate changes over time.  However, leachate may remain harmful indefinitely.

As illustrated below, modern landfills benefit from a series of measures to minimize the release of leachate into underlying groundwater or nearby streams. The measures include a liner beneath and around the sides of the buried waste along with a system of pipes at the bottom of the landfill to collect leachate for treatment. When a landfill cell is closed it is covered with an impermeable cap. Landfills are also ringed with monitoring wells to detect significant increases in the release of leachate.

While all of these measures can reduce and delay leachate releases, eventual water pollution cannot be prevented. This is because water must not come in contact with the buried waste for hundreds of years. Liners have been in use for about 30 years, which is about the same duration as the warranty offered by most liner manufacturers. One study indicated that liner half-life is about 36 years. As holes develop in liners they can be repaired, but this requires excavating buried waste which can lead to severe odor problems. And eventual, catastrophic liner failure may be inevitable.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires owners to monitor and maintain landfills for 30 years after closure.  Some states, like California, now require those who profit from landfills to continue monitoring and maintance long beyond the minimum 30-year post-closure period required by USEPA.

Existing Georgia Landfills: Odors, Property Value & Water Pollution

Stack & Associates has helped more Georgians protect their homes from poorly sited landfills than any other Georgia law firm.  In 2019 the Screven County Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of approval for a massive landfill proposal.  Testimony by Stack & Associates and many others was crucial to this victory.  In June, 2020 the Ogeechee Riverkeeper reported that the landfill was proposal killed when the application was withdrawn.

A portion of the testimony presented by Stack & Associates can be viewed at: https://ceds.org/excerpts-from-comments-to-screven-county-board-of-commissioners/.  This testimony provides a review of the potential impacts of Georgia landfills on wells, other ground and surface waters, property value as well as nuisances such as odors.

Please Consider Supporting the Alliance with a Contribution

The Alliance founders have engaged Community & Environmental Defense Services (CEDS).  CEDS has helped communities throughout the U.S. preserve their quality of life from inappropriate waste facilities and other land uses.  We may may also need to engage a law firm.

These expenses and others will be essential to ensuring Haralson County chooses the most responsible solid waste options.  Please consider supporting our effort to preserve Haralson County as a great place to live by making a contribution.  Checks should be made payable to: HCARWM and mailed to: HCARWM, Post Office Box 501, Tallapoosa, Georgia 30176.  Or, click the Donate button below to make a contribution by credit card.