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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Are you in compliance with the P2 Law to combat pollution?

The preservation of the environment remains a priority for the United States. In order to combat pollution, Congress has passed several laws over the years that are most often implemented and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. One such law that passed in 1990, the Pollution Prevention Act, aims to stop pollution before it starts. If you own and operate a business here in Georgia, this law may apply to your company as well.

Any business that produces waste must comply with the commonly referred to P2 Law. The goal is to involve companies in using practices that prevent pollution before it becomes an issue. This could involve changing processes, reusing materials as much as possible and putting conservation techniques into practice. Companies are also encouraged to use less toxic or nontoxic substances.

The EPA sometimes helps fund the cleanup of river pollution

Finding out that the Environmental Protection Agency is blaming a Georgia county for violating certain regulations could cause concern for the local government's finances. Cleanup of river pollution can be expensive, and has the potential for putting a significant dent into a county's finances. Finding the funding can be a challenge.

Fortunately, as illustrated by a recent EPA decision, the agency may help fund the cleanup through grants. The county in question received a grant of approximately $204,375 that will fund the majority of the estimated $375,000 it will take to clean up the pollution that is ending up in the St. Marys River. According to reports, human waste from septic tanks is leaking into the river from miles away.

Do you know what EPA regulations govern your business' waste?

You may start a small business here in Georgia that will produce waste. Before you begin operations, you may want to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency would consider that waste hazardous. If so, you also need to know how to safely dispose of it in order to prevent an environmental disaster, along with fines and lawsuits.

Making the determination regarding whether the waste your company will produce is hazardous under EPA regulations. The next step will be to understand the regulations regarding its disposal. Once you work out these details, you can begin operations knowing that your business remains in compliance with the applicable laws.

Have zoning issues stifled growth in Georgia residential areas?

Before the housing market crashed, numerous developers throughout Georgia bought up large tracts of land on which to build houses. Now, in the aftermath of recession, many of those acres remain undeveloped because the housing projects could not be finished, which leaves the homeowners living in those developments with the entire tax burden for the area. One Georgia county is considering tackling the zoning issues that created the situation.

The zoning law in question identified large tracts of land as residential without consideration for commercial development in the area. Had the housing market not crashed, the land may have been filled with numerous homes, but it is not. Now, the Georgia county is looking to change the zoning laws in order to rectify the problem.

Keeping your project in compliance with environmental law

As a developer, you are probably aware that your project will need to comply with a plethora of rules, regulations and laws. Some of those will include environmental law concerns, which can be easily violated if you are not careful. It may be beneficial to understand the federal and Georgia laws that apply to your particular project and know how to remain in compliance with them upfront, so that you do not experience issues later.

Whether you are developing a strip mall, a housing development or a commercial development, there will undoubtedly be environmental implications. The challenge is determining what environmental laws you need to be aware of and how to mitigate them if necessary. This is where an environmental attorney can prove invaluable.

Negotiations on water pollution cleanup take time

When one or more companies here in Georgia or elsewhere are accused of violating environmental regulations, it may not be necessary to simply give in to the first demands of a federal, state or local government agency. It may be possible to negotiate a deal on which everyone can agree. No matter how long the negotiations may take, the ultimate goal is to clean up the water pollution, which -- in many cases -- did not intentionally occur.

For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency has been in negotiations with several companies on the West Coast. State and local officials, along with tribal leaders in the area are encouraged by the course of the negotiations, but still wary of the process. This is because it is believed that the companies are actually driving the formulation of a cleanup plan instead of the EPA.

The problem of stormwater and water pollution

As the suburbs of cities like Atlanta spread further away from the city center, new infrastructure is needed to support them. Laying new roads, parking lots and sidewalks is more than likely part of that process. Without proper planning, storm water (including rain and melting snow) could ultimately cause water pollution that ends up putting Georgia residents at risk for health problems.

As rain or melting snow flow over roadways, parking lots and even roofs, it picks up pollutants such as oil. The runoff and its polluting passengers could easily end up in a river or stream. Contamination could affect the animals, flora and fauna that live in the river or rely on it for hydration or food.

Protecting water sources before you develop

Although people may prefer the taste of bottled water, many still wouldn't think twice before filling a glass from the sink or making a cup of coffee from tap water. The water that washes your dishes and makes ice in your freezer likely comes from underground water sources in your community. With the ongoing development in Georgia's cities and towns, how can you know if your water source is safe and clean?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers support and suggestions for communities that are interested in protecting their water sources. If you play a role in compliance for your city, you likely understand that the best way to avoid creating a hazard or contaminating a valued water source is to be proactive before beginning any development project.

Georgia developer faces land use and zoning conflicts

Zoning ordinances serve varied purposes. Some areas are zoned, for example, to prevent residences from being built near hazardous businesses. Other municipalities establish land use and zoning laws to protect the environment and prevent developers from exhausting natural resources. While not all Georgia zoning laws are strictly enforced, one developer is finding his way blocked despite having received past approval for his plans.

The problem is that he sought approval for his project in 1987. The developer submitted plans for a 50-story tower, a smaller tower and a hotel with commercial space to be constructed on a large undeveloped property. The buildings were never constructed, and meanwhile, the site underwent radical changes. For one, a major thoroughfare now bisects the property, and another developer purchased a corner of the land for the construction of his own hotel.

Scientists concerned about microplastic water pollution

There is no question that many people across the country take clean water for granted. Using it to bathe, wash clothes and swim may cause people to forget that they also use it to drink and cook their food. Additionally, countless species of wildlife depend on clean water to exist. Water pollution is a serious issue in Georgia, and those whose job is to protect the waterways are constantly studying the contaminants that affect its safety.

One ongoing study is measuring the amount of microplastics in the coastal waters of Georgia. These microplastics come from a variety of sources, such as small pieces of plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and tiny bits of fabric that wash off clothes in the laundry. Microplastics also come from the now-banned microbeads in some toothpastes and facial scrubs. Examining waters from 40 sites along the coast, both isolated and populated areas, the scientists made some startling finds.

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