State gives mine owners 45 days to clean up their act
After Grady County officials caught wind of possible illegal dumping at a surface mine on Pine Park Road on June 26, state officials were called in and last week wrote up the Tallahassee firm.
Grady County Code Enforcement Officer Larry Ivy and District 3 County Commissioner Charles Norton briefed the board of commissioners Tuesday on the visit by Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Environmental Protection Division (EPD) officials here last week.
Ivy and Norton met with John Hays and William C. Lucas of EPD at the Pine Park Road surface mine last Thursday.
According to both Ivy and Norton, what state officials found was evidence of illegal dumping of construction and demolition (C&D) materials into the mine.
The mine, which is owned and operated by Jimmie Crowder Excavating & Land Clearing, Inc., of Tallahassee, has been in operation by one owner or another since the 1970s.
Crowder officials had approached the county commission in June seeking a variance to the county special land use regulations in order to shift the mining operation to an inert landfill.
Ivy, in his report Tuesday, noted that state officials said the state has to approve any plan to reclaim the land, and the plan on file with the state from Crowder calls for the creation of a lake at the mine site.
EPD officials, after inspecting the site, ordered the removal of the C&D material that had been dumped at the mine and, according to Ivy, Crowder has 45 days to clear out the C&D that was dumped in the mine.
According to Commissioner Norton, the C&D material that had been dumped at the mine came from a building demolition job taking place at Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville.
Closer inspection of the tract also revealed an illegal tire dump on the property. Ivy estimates there is in excess of two semitrailer truck loads of tires that state officials say must be properly disposed of.
Ivy told commissioners the county has absolutely no say so in regard to the mining operation or the plans to reclaim the land since Grady County has never adopted a surface mine ordinance.
Crowder officials told state and county authorities they are not certain what they will do next. According to Ivy, one Crowder official said there is possibly another section of the mine that would produce quality dirt for company projects.
Ivy noted that if the company continues to operate the mine, the state will have jurisdiction over the operation and the eventual land reclaiming.
“If they forfeited the performance bond required when operating a surface mine, it would cost them maybe $40,000 and they could walk away,” Ivy said, adding, “$40,000 wouldn’t touch what it will cost to reclaim the land.”
Commissioner Norton told his fellow commissioners the only way the county was alerted to the situation was from an anonymous call received June 26.
“Some material had already been moved since Larry (Ivy) was there on June 26 and last week, but Crowder officials denied it even though Larry had photos. They also denied knowledge of the tire pile and a drainage ditch that drains into the creek on the property,” Norton said.
The District 3 commissioner, whose district includes the mine, said Crowder could also slope the mine and reclaim the land by planting pine trees.
Norton also expressed his concerns about a future variance request from Crowder.
“With what has been said and then with what was actually done, I’ve got questions, gentlemen,” Norton said.
Crowder officials have told county officials they would prefer to delay any public hearing on a proposed variance until November.