CITIZENS UNITE AGAINST INDUSTRIAL SLUDGE ("SOIL AMENDMENTS"): In September, the Agriculture Department concluded the public comment portion of the ongoing soil amendment rule-making process. Ten county council Chairmen, along with State Representatives, Association of County Commissioners in Georgia and Georgia Water Coalition submitted comments alongside Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha Riverkeepers and affected citizens. Each set of comments reflects the negative impacts this industry is having on rural Georgia, and together provide a blueprint for the future.
The four major asks:
Be a Farm
The soil amendment program in Georgia is meant to aid farmers in creating healthier soils. If a site is accepting an industrial product for the purposes of amending the soil, they should be doing so with the intent of using that soil to create a product. Therefore, if you accept soil amendments on your land, you should in fact be a farm using it to benefit your soil, not just a property being used to dump waste.
The Right to Know
The Agriculture Departments failure to require the submission of records and plans means the veil of secrecy around the locations and content of these industrial operations continues. Communities have a right to know where and what is being dumped on their land, and currently that right is being taken from them.
The Right to Help
Counties throughout Georgia want the ability to help the Agriculture Department oversee this program. With currently only 2 staff members dedicated to overseeing this industrial waste disposal program it is clear bad actors are able to continue unabated.
The Right to Know it’s Safe
The reuse of industrial byproducts is a good thing. In many cases such an industry should be celebrated and pushed to reach new technological heights. However, allowing industrial and municipal waste to be reclassified as an Agricultural product without ensuring its safety is irresponsible. Tighter requirements of source material testing is required and should be required at a much higher frequency.
Soil Amendments are continuing to garner long needed attention in Georgia. In November the Department of Agriculture announced a second round of the rulemaking governing the spreading of waste on land throughout Georgia. The rulemaking did not address the main 4 issues requested by Georgia Water Coalition members and elected officials, leading to the strong likelihood of an active legislative session regarding the definitions and application of soil amendments this year. Please consider joining this committee if you are interested in helping ensure the soil amendment program in Georgia is safe and protective of all Georgians and our waterways.
August 12, 2023. Augusta Chronicle. "Ag department completes 90-day review of soil amendment rules"
July 12, 2023. AJC. "Georgia Agriculture Dept. plans tighter oversight of ‘soil amendments’"
April 18, 2023. Augusta Chronicle. "Much remains a mystery: Here are the basic facts on soil amendments"
March 2, 2023. Augusta Chronicle. "County passes resolution on soil amendment applications"
February 17, 2023. Augusta Chronicle. "Soil amendments could get some local monitoring under new bill in the Georgia House"
October 20, 2022. Augusta Chronicle. "Opponents of land applications of soil amendments meet in Wrens"
September 24, 2022. Augusta Chronicle. "A Plague of Flies: Citizens seek help with smell and flies from neighbors’ fertilizer applications"