Hazardous waste is an issue in nearly every state, and Georgia is no exception. In fact, it is estimated that cleanup is needed at approximately 500 sites here in the state due to hazardous waste. The problem is that the monies that are supposed to go to that cleanup do not always end up furthering cleanup efforts. Does this mean that the state is falling short of its obligations when it comes to protecting the environment?
Estimates indicate that approximately $14.5 million was set aside to clean up Georgia's hazardous waste sites. The problem is that only around half that amount actually goes to those efforts. The state's general fund uses the rest for other things.
The money contained in the trust fund that was supposed to be designated for environmental cleanup starts out in the state's general fund and then gets allocated to clean up contaminated sites. Sources indicate that only about 40 percent of those funds go toward their intended purpose. This means that numerous sites around the state continue to contaminate the groundwater or otherwise harm the environment. Efforts are in the works to make it mandatory for the money earmarked to clean up toxic sites actually goes toward that purpose.
It remains to be seen whether this type of initiative succeeds. What is certain is that companies tasked with protecting the environment through cleanup efforts would more than likely not be given the same type of "pass" that the state receives under the current system. Those companies could face substantial penalties for failing to follow through regardless of the circumstances. Companies facing such penalties may benefit from discussing their situations with an environmental law attorney.
Source: wsbtv.com, "Hundreds of hazardous waste sites await cleanup in Georgia", Richard Belcher, Feb. 8, 2018