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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Why is water pollution such a big concern in Georgia?

Nearly every Georgia business must comply with some sort of governmental regulations. If yours needs to be sensitive to environmental issues, one of them may be potential water pollution. Even if your company is nowhere near a natural water source, its activities could end up polluting one or more waterways.

Fertilizers and pesticides are two common culprits of water pollution. Other sources of pollution include industrial chemicals, metals and solvents. When these chemicals are used on crops and the soil in farming operations, they can leach into the ground, and subsequently, the water table. The chemicals are then carried underground to natural water sources and could harm the flora and fauna, wildlife and humans in the area.

A delicate balance is needed in land-use planning

Some areas of Georgia need to continue to grow and expand. This requires municipal authorities to determine how to best use the available land in order to accommodate growth and preserve the environment. A great deal of land\-use planning requires a balance of these two needs.

The primary uses for land include residential, commercial and industrial, along with parks and institutional. Determining the best use for a particular piece of land depends on numerous factors. Limitations need to be put on developers in order to protect the health and welfare of residents in the area, along with the environment. Sometimes those goals align, but in other cases, they may not.

Company pulls products due to exposure to toxic a substance

Georgia parents with young girls may be familiar with a retailer named Claire's. The retail chain sells numerous products, including makeup. Parents allow their young girls to play with the makeup not necessarily knowing what the ingredients are. One mother in another state was concerned and had the products tested. The results indicated that her daughter, and countless others who used the products in question, suffered exposure to a toxic substance -- tremolite asbestos.

Why this known human carcinogen was in the 17 products now pulled from the popular retailer is not yet known. What is known is that any exposure to asbestos can have serious health ramifications in the future. Asbestos is known to cause a rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma. A representative of Claire's says the products were pulled as a precautionary measure while an investigation is conducted.

Buyer beware: Hidden environmental issues could be costly

When you find a piece of commercial property here in Atlanta that you want to purchase, you may expect the seller to be completely forthcoming with any current or potential issues with it. Unfortunately, not everyone believes in full disclosure.

For this reason, you conduct exhaustive due diligence on the property before purchasing it, some of which may be at the behest of your mortgage lender. These steps may seem unnecessary to you, but without it you could inherit a slew of costly problems. One of those problems could surround environmental issues.

Company pays the price for violating environmental law

One of the primary functions of the governments of both Georgia and the United States is to keep residents safe from harm. This means doing more than just enacting laws; it means enforcing them as well. For instance, when it is discovered that a company violated environmental law, it is the government's job to ensure that the appropriate parties pay the price.

For one company from a neighboring state, this means organizational probation for five years, shouldering the cost of cleanup, along with other restitution and paying a hefty fine. In addition, the company is required to come up with a plan for effective environmental compliance, implement it and enforce it, which includes dealing with employees who violate the plan. The company in question was illegally dumping hazardous waste brought into Georgia across state lines.

Volkswagen guilty of environmental law violations

If a Georgia resident owns a business, that business more than likely must adhere to rules and regulations that fall under a variety of federal and state agencies. Perhaps one of those agencies is the Environmental Protection Agency. The company does its best to make sure that it remains in compliance with the applicable environmental law in order to avoid civil and criminal penalties.

Not all businesses attempt to diligently remain within EPA regulations, however. For instance, it was discovered that automaker Volkswagen "cheated" in order to ensure that is diesel-powered vehicles passed emissions standards set by the agency and the state agency in which the infractions occurred. The EPA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and others accused the auto manufacturer of violating environmental laws and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act.

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.

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