Originally created 09/24/98

Landfill project overdue

Deficiencies in Richmond County's landfill off Deans Bridge Road likely won't be corrected until late fall, despite a state-imposed deadline that expired in July.

The problems include the steepness of the slope along the man-made mountain of garbage. The design called for a 4-to-1 slope; what was built has a 2-to-1 slope, contributing to erosion. The compromise calls for a 3-to-1 slope.

The landfill also lacked mandatory "terraces" required for every 20 feet of elevation. State regulators ordered the landfill to retrofit the site with a more gradual grade and the required terraces.

Environmental Specialist Danny Rice of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division said state regulators inspected the site last month.

"They were not complete," he said. "The project was taking longer than they thought because they actually had to go back in there and remove a lot of the garbage."

At this point, he said, the corrections are probably 60 to 70 percent complete. Although the compliance deadline of mid-July was missed, the work under way shows the city is acting in good faith.

"Since they were making substantial progress, as far as we're concerned, they're in compliance," Mr. Rice said. "They're even working people overtime trying to get things right. We told them we'd reinspect when they're finished."

Mike Greene, Augusta-Richmond County's assistant director of public works, said the challenge in remodeling a landfill is being able to do so while the facility remains in daily operation.

"You can't just sit back and wait or close it down while you work on it," he said. The landfill takes in about 700 tons of trash per day, which must be properly graded and covered with topsoil almost each afternoon.

EPD must approve the modifications under way. Since the work is corrective action, not construction, the approval will have to be sought after the fact, Mr. Greene said. "We're proceeding with the work under the assumption it'll be approved," he said. "At this point we have no choice."

Since the grade and slope problems were identified last spring, the landfill has hired professional surveyors to measure and set the grades and slopes to avoid future violations.


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