Stinky landfill operator files fifth appeal

On Sept. 7, the state Supreme Court told Waste Management Inc. that it would not hear the company's arguments on why the Live Oak landfill, located just off of Moreland Avenue in south Atlanta, should remain open. It was the fourth straight legal defeat for Waste Management and its lawyers, who for more than two years have battled a state Environmental Protection Division order to shut down the landfill by the end of 2004.

Now, Waste Management is challenging the state's highest court's decision. On Sept. 17, the company's lawyers filed a motion asking the justices to reconsider its decision. It's Waste Management's fifth appeal.

"At this point, they should be putting money into closing the landfill," says Kasey Strum, an attorney who represents neighborhoods near Live Oak, "and not continuing to fight this in the legal arena."

Waste Management's attorney, Rita Sheffey, says, "We felt like we had a strong basis for our petition in the first place, so we simply summarized our positions and hopefully made an even stronger point to the court."

The court battle began in the fall of 2002, when EPD inspectors visited Live Oak and found that Waste Management wasn't covering sewage sludge with soil, as required by law. The result of that and other violations was a stench that drove hundreds of south DeKalb County and south Fulton County residents indoors.

At first, Waste Management officials argued that they didn't violate any of the laws that govern landfill management. But after losing in court with that argument, they switched tactics and claimed that closing the landfill would create a public crisis because Atlanta sends almost all of its trash — about 4,500 tons a day — to Live Oak.

The state Supreme Court doesn't have to decide on Waste Management's petition by any set deadline.

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