Proposed coal ash dump near Jesup won’t be built, landfill operator says

By David Pendered

A controversial coal ash dump proposed near Jesup won’t be built, according to a statement released Wednesday by the company that intended to build the landfill.

Broadhurst landfill, coal ash

A proposal to dump coal ash at a landfill near Jesup has been withdrawn by the company that operates the landfill. Credit: broadhurstlandfill.com

A spokesman for the company said, “I can unequivocally say Republic has no plans to bring any coal ash to Boardhurst by rail, by truck, by any means,” according to a report on jacksonville.now.

Republic Service had planned to bring coal ash for disposal at its Broadhurst Environmental Landfill, near Jesup in Wayne County. The proposal drew a firestorm of opposition from area residents and environmental advocates statewide.

A leading critic of the coal ash proposal expressed cautious optimism Thursday.

“There’s still work to be done, but this is a giant step for Coastal Georgia’s protection,”  Dink NeSmith, chairman of The Press-Sentinel, Jesup’s newspaper, said in an email. “Drew Isenhour, Republic’s area president, promised to present a workable proposal, and he delivered.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to enjoy good-neighbor relations. We have now established an understanding that the public’s voice must be heard, and we are pleased Republic is listening.”

Isenhour had said in a statement:

  • “We take great pride in being a good neighbor in Wayne County. Part of being a good neighbor involves listening, which we have done and will continue to do. We believe that by withdrawing these pending permit applications, while we sit down with community leaders to further explore potential common ground, we are going above and beyond to demonstrate our commitment to Wayne County.”
Coal ash, map

Jesup is located in the Altamaha River basin, which the Nature Conservancy has identified as “America’s Last Great Places” and has established the Altamaha Bioreserve. File/Credit: mapquest.com, David Pendered

Broadhurst said in a statement that it is taking the following steps:

  • “Specifically, the landfill team is withdrawing a 2015 request to modify a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to accommodate an expanded rail facility, along with a related request before the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for a state water quality certification. In addition, the team is withdrawing an application before the Georgia Environmental Protectiong Division to amend the landfill’s solid waste handling permit to allow for a monofill for disposal of coal combustion residuals.”

Broadhurst also said it made the decision as part of its:

  • “[L]atest efforts as a good neighbor to work cooperatively with local officials and community leaders. The team is voluntarily withdrawing three pending permit applications before federal and state authorities, reinforcing the Landfill’s strong commitment to the community and responsiveness to local environmental concerns.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by leaders at the state Capitol to not pass legislation regarding the planned coal ash landfill. At least two House bills stalled in committee.

Coal ash, editorial cartoon

This David and Goliath editorial cartoon is one in the series published in The Press-Sentinel, which is owned by Dink NeSmith’s Community Newspaper, Inc., which opposes the coal ash pond proposal. File/Credit: Dink NeSmith

However, the state Department of Natural Resources did create a website to publicize plans by Georgia Power to remove coal ash from its facilities.

The Broadhurst landfill has decades of capacity remaining. The company evidently saw greater value in accommodating residents today than in bringing in coal ash.

Broadhurst’s statement observed:

  • “The Landfill team manages more than 600 acres of Plantation Pines, including a 257-acre wetlands mitigation site. Another 259 acres have been dedicated to wetlands conservation and preservation, including sections of Little Penholloway Creek. In addition, the Landfill returns roughly $1 million per year to Wayne County for waste accepted at the site, and generates approximately $2 million in direct and indirect benefits to the County annually.
  • “Broadhurst Environmental Landfill is a vital asset to Wayne County, and will continue to serve residents and businesses for generations to come. The Landfill team remains committed to keeping the community informed about site plans, including any future rail operations that support waste disposal.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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