Regulators inform transfer station it is not compliant with state laws
by Geoff Folsom
March 07, 2013 11:59 PM | 3266 views | 12 12 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Big trucks haul construction and demolition waste to the Bankhead C&D Transfer Station in Mableton.<br>Staff/Emily Barnes
Big trucks haul construction and demolition waste to the Bankhead C&D Transfer Station in Mableton.
Staff/Emily Barnes
Even as it seeks to expand, a Mableton waste transfer station is failing to follow all the rules of its current operations, a state official said.

On Monday, representatives from Cobb County Code Enforcement and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division visited the Bankhead C&D Transfer Station in Mableton, which has a hearing set for March 19 before the Cobb Board of Commissioners, said EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers. The station is looking to get a permit that would allow the 8.1-acre site to take in household trash in addition to the construction and demolition waste it now is licensed to accept.

But Chambers said the environmental regulators told transfer station operators they aren’t even in compliance with their current license, which allows the station to take in commercial and demolition waste that is then hauled by larger trucks to a landfill.

Concerns from state

The state agency gave Bankhead a week to come up with a corrective action plan to address a building where waste is taken, which fails to meet requirements that it be fully enclosed on three sides. Part of the siding on the building doesn’t reach all the way to the ground.

“A lot of stuff is blowing around, and there’s a lot of litter, which (Bankhead’s operator) also has to pick up,” Chambers said.

Bankhead is also responsible for building a liquid drainage system that connects to the county sewer system, Chambers said.

Cobb Community Development Director Rob Hosack, who oversees the county’s code enforcement, said that in order to build the drain, Bankhead will have to remove a dirt berm designed to hide it from view of area businesses and residents.

The corrective action plan, which shows what the company plans to do to address the problems brought up by the state and how it plans to do it, will also be required to address a fuel tank on site that contains petroleum residue needing to be cleaned up, Chambers said. If the plan isn’t completed within a week, a consent order may be issued.

“It puts down on paper what they have done, what they need to do to correct it,” he said of the order. “It may or may not come with a monetary penalty.”

Hosack said that when Bankhead’s operator was informed of the violation, he told inspectors he avoided making the changes out of concern that he would just need to redo the work if the Board of Commissioners approves the facility’s expansion.

“The guy from EPD told them, ‘I don’t care what extra money you are going to have to spend, this is what you have to do now,” Hosack said.

Transfer station attorney Garvis Sams declined comment, saying it is against his firm’s policy to discuss pending cases.

Residents don’t buy excuses

Shelia Edwards, director of Legacy Cares, a group of neighbors formed to fight the transfer station’s expansion, said the transfer station has a long history of problems, but has continued to operate. Bankhead was fined by the county in January and March 2012 for taking in household garbage without a permit.

“Why is this company, with such noxious uses right next to our homes, being allowed to skirt the law from a local and state perspective?” Edwards said. “They’ve been taking in waste since 2009, and they’ve never had that permit in place. Who gets to do that? We’re not in a Third World country.”

After the Cobb Planning Commission approved Bankhead’s request to take in up to 150,000 tons of household garbage annually, the Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected its request in May 2012.

In between the votes, a Georgia Department of Transportation report advised that the transfer station could draw birds if it accepted household trash, possibly posing a threat to planes taking off and landing at Fulton County-Charlie Brown Airport, located just across the Chattahoochee River.

Up for a vote March 19

But GDOT later changed its opinion because of what an agency spokesman called a misunderstanding, believing that the transfer station was actually a landfill.

That decision helped lead to a tentative settlement agreement to a lawsuit brought by Bankhead’s owners after the county rejected their permit request. Commissioners are expected to vote on the settlement at their March 19 zoning hearing.

Edwards said the airport threat isn’t over yet.

With the Federal Aviation Administration shutting down the control tower at Charlie Brown, as it has done at McCollum Field-Cobb County Airport in Kennesaw, due to recent sequestration cuts, Edwards said pilots there are even more concerned about the possibility of birds interfering with planes.

“Those planes are now going to have to come in on their own,” she said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 13, 2013
The community seems very uneducated about this topic. First, we need to look up the definition of a Landfill vs. Transfer Station. Second, it is not illegal dumping if it was they would of been shut down years ago. Third, what toxic petroleum waste are you referring to?
top cat
March 09, 2013
HA! Your government in action.

Folks, there is a nearly $800 million tax vote going on right now.

Do you really want to give government another $800 million of your money?
March 09, 2013
Thanks to MDJ for leading the coverage on BTS. On three separate occasions, two independent government agencies inspected BTS and concluded that the company was operating an illegal landfill.

In December, 2011 and January, 2012, Cobb County Code Enforcement officials issued BTS citations for what was occurring at that time on the property, which was already purchased and operating under BTS, not Siskey. These two findings referenced conditions found at the time of the inspections, and none of the citations made any reference to past activities.

In April, 2012, Georgia’s EPD issued BTS a citation for an illegal landfill as well. The EPD letter expressly referenced “recent evidence” of burying waste on the site. These agencies findings, occurring at different dates and times corroborate each other. There is no indication that any evidence was ever presented to either Cobb County or to EPD disproving the findings of these agencies when the citations were issued. There has been no disposition of the citations. Based upon this, it is not believable that BTS’s landfill activities were related to a prior owner. The most important fact here is that in any case, the landfill has never been excavated nor has there been any soil or water testing by an environmental firm to identify any contaminants that may be harmful or hurtful to humans or the environment. BTS has a responsibility to our community to remove that landfill as they are the owners now. Our community is within 1000 feet of this property and we entitled to know what we have been exposed to from Bankhead’s illegal operations on that property.

This is the 50,000 pound elephant in the room and BTS wants the homeowners, the county, EPD and GDOT to pretend that we don’t see it.

March 13, 2013
maybe you should get your facts straight before shooting off your mouth
Area Residents
March 09, 2013
This company has provided zero proof that they have any respect for the laws that govern their business (County, State or Federal) nor do they have any respect for the community in which they operate.

Thank you for writing this article, Mr. Folsom. You've done the community a service by continuing to cover this issue and exposing the issues for all to see.
south vs east
March 08, 2013
My dear Shelia Edwards, south Cobb County has totally become a 3rd world country.

It is no secret.

Make no mistake, it is all by design.

Seems unfair to the good people that purchased homes there and expected more.
Legacy Neighbor
March 08, 2013
BTS seems to consistenly operate in such a way that makes it clear they are only looking for ways to save money - whether it is flouting laws or destroying the environment. Thanks to Geoff Folsom for reporting that the operator of BTS flat out admitted they knew corrective actions were required but they were more concerned with saving a buck than operating legally.
Cobb Resident
March 08, 2013
This has been a horrible situation going on in South Cobb for a while and right off of the Chattahoochee!! If it weren't for so many concerned citizens in the area bringing this attention to light, I am sure the State and County would still be looking the other way. It will be interesting to see what all the Cobb Commissioners do including Lisa Cupid!! Your actions will prove much louder than your words.
Judy Arce
March 08, 2013
What I DO NOT understand is what is the issue that has to be voted on. We are trying to build a community here, we live here and we DO NOT want a landfill next door polluting our water, homes, children etc.
S Cobb Resident
March 08, 2013
This is a baptism by fire for Lisa Cupid. It'll be interesting to see which way she votes on this. The residents in her district do NOT want this to be approved and want the station to comply with current regulations. But we'll see if that matters to her...
March 08, 2013
These guys have been dumping illegally for years! The only reason they applied for the permit is they were caught dumping illegally! What about the toxic petroleum waste? Will that end up in the sewer?
March 08, 2013
BTS hasn't been compliant with State or County law for years. Glad to see more people talking about this and my hope is that they cannot continue their illegal operation immune from the law much longer.
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