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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

UGA faces significant fine over hazardous waste storage, disposal violations

Businesses engaged in toxic chemical disposal have significant responsibilities, not only toward their own workers, but also to the public which could be negatively impacted by their actions. A lot can go wrong with the storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals, and state and federal regulators take violations seriously.

For instance, the University of Georgia may have to pay nearly $100,000 in fines to federal regulators in connection with a hazardous waste treatment facility used to store liquid radioactive waste mixed with other hazardous waste products. The university facility was found to have been in violation of various safety rules in 2014 and 2015.

Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the problems with erosion that are being raised with the Sabal Trail Pipeline project in southwest Georgia. As we noted, compliance with the standards set forth in the “Green Book,” the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, is part of the concern.

The Green Book contains a core set of standards concerning erosion and sediment control that must be followed at the state and local level. These are known as the Best Management Practice Standards and Specifications for General Land-Disturbing Activities, and they provide the minimum standards that bind those engaged in such activity. 

The environmental challenges of land use planning

Building or developing land comes with a host of complications, and not all of them involve finances or legal permits. As a Georgia developer, you will certainly want to consider the impact that the final project will have on the environment. To adequately address environmental complications and avoid unnecessary delays in your project, you will find it helpful to seek the guidance of an environmental law attorney as early as possible in the zoning process.

It takes a lot of work to effectively address the environmental concerns that you could face. Fortunately, you do not have to do this alone. With the right help, you can reach a solution to zoning and land use issues facing you, project neighbors and the entities that enforce zoning and environmental laws.

Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.1

In our last post, we began looking at the situation of a farmer in southwest Georgia whose property has been destroyed as a result of the Sabal Trail Pipeline project. As we noted, the situation raises questions about whether the pipeline contractors are sincerely working to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, also known as the Green Book.

The Clean Water Act, as some readers may be aware, regulates the discharge of pollution into the waters of the United States and gives the EPA authority to implement pollution control programs. The EPA has put in place various pollution control programs, including those enforce wastewater pollution standards and water quality standards for surface water contaminants.

Pipeline project may be leaving farmers with significant property costs

Georgia readers, especially in the southwest part of the state, may have heard by now of the Sabal Trail Pipeline, which runs across southwest Georgia down into Florida. The pipeline, which is a joint project of several energy companies, runs across nine counties in the state of Georgia, covering a lot of farmland, with the aim of bringing natural gas supplies to Florida.

As is often the case with such projects, there are various environmental concerns. The concerns about the impact of the pipeline project on property owners in Georgia are highlighted by what happened to a farmer in Brooks County earlier this year. 

A brief look at Georgia water surface rights

Previously, we mentioned the favorable decision recently reached in the water dispute between Georgia and Florida concerning the use of water from the Apalachicola-Cattahoochee-Flint River Basin. As we noted last time, one of the challenges involved in the interstate water wars is that fundamental property rights are at stake.

The general rule of water use law in Georgia, if there could be said to be one, is the riparian rights doctrine. Under this doctrine, property owners are entitled to surface water which flows naturally across or by their land, and may make reasonable use of the water for domestic, manufacturing or agricultural purposes. Unreasonable use would be when the landowner uses the water in such a way as to harm other riparian owners, particularly those downstream. 

Georgia wins victory in water wars dispute with state of Florida

We’ve previously written on this blog about the water dispute between Georgia and Florida concerning water use caps. The basic dispute is that neighboring states have long held that Georgia uses an unfair amount of water from the Apalachicola-Cattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which threatens the economies of the other states. Florida had requested limitations on Georgia’s use of water, and that request was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The case recently came to a conclusion of sorts when it was determined that Georgia’s use of water from the two rivers should not be subject to limitations, no matter what long-term consequences there might be for the state of Florida. That decision was reached after an attorney assigned by the Supreme Court to handle the case found that the state of Florida had not satisfactorily shown that a water use cap was necessary. 

Stockpiled tires are a nuisance and a danger

It is against the law in Georgia and most other states to dump tires. Nevertheless, people shamelessly drop their waste tires along the road and even onto private property. Others may allow tires to accumulate on their land or try to burn them. If you have a neighbor who has a stockpile of waste tires, you may be concerned about the environmental impact it is having on your neighborhood.

Executive orders lead to delay in effective date of updated Beryllium workplace safety rule

Occupational exposure to toxic chemicals is a serious issue, and companies are expected to abide by various regulations to ensure their workers’ are protected in accordance with current requirements and standards. Of course, companies don’t always comply with these rules and regulations, but even those who do may still be putting their employees at risk due to unknown toxicities.

An increase in knowledge about these unknown toxicities in the workplace can sometimes result in establishment of new standards, or modification of old standards. An example of the latter is a federal rule amending the standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium-related compounds which was set to take effect this week. The amended set of standards, however, will now be delayed a couple months due to a set of executive orders issued by President Trump.  

Research suggests using easement to protect land from hydraulic fracturing contamination

In our last post, we began looking at a proposed change to state drilling law that would allow landowners’ to better protect their property from the natural gas drilling industry and local governments’ to better protect water supplies from the effects of hydraulic fracturing.

As we noted last time, it is important for landowners to understand how they can go about protecting their rights. This can be done not only through pursuing protections under government regulations, but also by making use of property law protections. According to recent research from Stanford University, one tool that could prove very useful for landowners looking to protect their property from fracking is the conservation easement. 

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