by: Jeff Dore Updated:DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. —
In Dawson County, residents, politicians and business owners are uniting against a business operator who wants a permit to spread partially treated human sewage on land in Dawson County.
The sewage would come from a treatment plant that serves subdivisions in neighboring Forsyth County.
The Environmental Protection Agency website says partially treated biosolids are a “valuable resource” for the soil. Ken Curren, who is applying for the permit to spread the material, said environmental agencies call spreading the biosolids a “beneficial use.”
But area residents oppose it for a variety of reasons. Gary Whitmire, who was born and lived all his life across the street from the site, is concerned it will smell bad, make living there undesirable, and drive down property values.
Laura Jones, who also lives near the site, has a 9-month-old daughter and fears pathogens that remain in the Class B treated material could be dangerous to her health.
Jane Graves, the president of the Dawson County Homeowners and Civic Association, said the site is within a mile of the Georgia Premium Outlets mall on Georgia 400, and that a breeze could send odor toward the mall and drive away customers, whose business is an economic driver in Dawson County.
But opponents agree that state law appears to say that if the permit petitioners follow state guidelines and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division grants the permit, that would probably overrule local opposition.
Graves said federal law could overrule that, and this could lead to litigation.