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Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 12:24pm

EPD Cuts Positions

The state will have fewer people monitoring water quality next year and some hazardous waste sites won’t get cleaned up. That’s because of budget cuts to Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.

The EPD released its reductions this week. It will eliminate several positions says assistant director Jim Ussery.

"You know in most areas we don’t have funding, all we can really do is reduce ourefforts, and you know where we predominately get our state funding is concentrated in our water program and our waste program, so areas like solid waste, landfill, water monitoring… those kinds of areas," says Ussery.

Environmentalists are worried less oversight will put people’s health at risk.

“In the last year and half we’ve seen incidents like the chemical spill here in Athens, the large fish kill in the Ogeechee back in May where especially emergency response by state officials has been lacking,” says Ben Emanuel with the Altamaha Riverkeeper, “so it looks like we’re seeing very real impacts on the ground where staff reductions mean it’s hard for environmental officials to protect the environment and public health in the state."

The agency will also eliminate a position that monitors radiation from nuclear power plants.

The state has slashed the EPD’s funding 44 percent since 2008. State money comprises a quarter of the agency’s overall funding.