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County closes dumpster site

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County closes dumpster site

After a disturbing presentation Tuesday morning about deplorable conditions at some of Bulloch County’s dumpster locations, Bulloch County commissioners voted to close one of the worst sites – the one at Lawrence Church Road.


After a disturbing presentation Tuesday morning about deplorable conditions at some of Bulloch County’s dumpster locations, Bulloch County commissioners voted to close one of the worst sites the one at Lawrence Church Road.

More closures may come later, said Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson.

Fred White, director of Bulloch County’s Environmental and Solid Waste Department, showed graphic photos of dumpster sites in the southern region of the county that had been refurbished and cleaned up just a few weeks ago.

After finding similar conditions at the dump site on Rocky Ford Road near Old River Road a few months ago, Thompson ordered the dumpsters removed for several days in a move he said was to “get attention” from residents who were abusing the site.

When the dumpsters were returned a week later, repainted and set upon a newly graded and cleaned lot, people seemed to appreciate the site more, he said.

“There is still a mattress or a chair left on occasion,” but overall, the site is much improved compared to its former condition, he said Tuesday.

However, similar acts taken at dumpster sites on Lawrence Church Road, Arcola Road at Highway 80 and Arcola Road at Highway 46 have not seemed to be as effective.

Dumpsters at these spots were removed for a period of time, then returned with fresh paint and new gravel on the lots, he said. But soon, they were overflowing with trash, with debris scattered all over the ground and unacceptable materials left behind. Someone even painted orange graffiti on the new dumpsters.

Household garbage isn’t the problem, as long as it is placed properly within the receptacle. However, used tires, construction waste, hazardous materials such as cleaner and oils, furniture and other waste that is required to be taken to a landfill are left behind at these sites daily, he said.

Cleaning up the sites is costly, especially when the county must pay to ship such waste to a landfill in Jesup, Thompson said.

“This is just going to be a start,” he said. “We have cameras up, and unless people do not start being responsible and put trash inside the dumpsters (as well as discard unacceptable materials properly in a landfill), they are going to end up all being closed.”

The dumpsters on Rocky Ford Road “are not perfect, but a lot better than it used to be,” he said. “I check them twice a day, and other people check them, too.”  

Thompson doesn’t know why residents around the southern part of the county haven’t responded like the residents near the Rocky Ford Road site did.

“It’s pathetic down there,” he said.

Much of the problem with dumpster sites near county lines is that residents of other counties abuse them. The dumpsters have signs that specify they are for household waste only — not tires, furniture, yard waste or construction debris — and are for use only by Bulloch County residents. But many people ignore those signs, Thompson said.

It appears Chatham County residents and business owners have been using the Lawrence Church Road site, he said.

“There are enormous amounts of truck tires, construction debris, 55-gallon barrels of oil and cleaner, and we’ve got to put a stop to it,” he said. “We will be shutting it down by the end of the week.”

Eventually, the county commission hopes to place staffed recycling centers in the southern area of the county, but the money for that isn’t in the budget at this time.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to close only the Lawrence Church Road site, but only time — and residents’ actions — will determine whether additional sites will be closed.

“Today? No,” Thompson said. “But we don’t know what tomorrow will hold.”

White said the sheer volume and variety of trash tossed around outside of the dumpsters is incredible.

“You name it, it’s there — demolition debris, 55-gallon drums of cleaning fluid used at garages to clean parts, ethanol compounds,” he said. “If you can name it, it has been out there.”

This, along with nonworking refrigerators, broken toys, cases of rotten food, tree limbs and even carcasses of dead animals have been tossed carelessly beside the bins, he said. Often, bags of household trash are thrown outside the bins, even when there is room inside.

“We have done everything we can do (to make the sites clean and attractive and keep them open),” Thompson said. “We thought people would respect them.”

The Rocky Ford Road site was not left open just because he lives nearby, he said.

“We are proud (of the way residents have complied with rules), but if it goes back to its old ways, we will close it, too,” he said.

 

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

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