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Friday, August 14, 2009 - 10:25am

Budget Cuts Thwarting Hazardous Waste Cleanup

State budget cuts are thwarting a new state law designed to speed-up the clean-up of hundreds of hazardous waste sites in Georgia.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a law allowing property owners to pay $5000 plus expenses to have the Georgia Environmental Protection Division speed up its process for putting hazardous waste sites back to use.

The idea behind the law was that some property owners want to clean-up their land and return it to use but have no clue when the EPD will get around to approving their permits. The voluntary extra fees were intended to go toward hiring extra EPD staff to fast-track the bureaucracy.

The problem is that the fees are going to the state's general budget and not to the EPD. One Savannah landowner had a check returned because the agency doesn't have the staff to write rules to implement the law.

Or as one EPD official put it, there are reviews that have been sitting there for a while, but with furloughs, it gets harder to turn them around.

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