Calhoun City Council approved resolution in litigation concerning PFAS – WRGA

Tuesday, July 9 2024-11:30 am

Blake Silvers, Calhoun Times

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After a vote this week by the city council, a recent lawsuit filed against Calhoun has moved one step closer towards a resolution.

On Monday night, the council unanimously approved a settlement agreement with an environmental group concerning its drinking water supply.

Andy Davis, an attorney, said: “The city entered into a settlement agreement that will be sent to CRBI to receive their approval. We anticipate that they will do so, to allow us to propose a consent order in federal court in order to settle the litigation the Coosa River Basin Initiative began with the Moss Land Company and the City of Calhoun.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Coosa River Basin Initiative filed a lawsuit in March that was 75 pages long. It demanded large fines be levied by the Federal Clean Water Act against the city, and Moss Land Company, not exceeding $66,712 a day. The lawsuit was filed after the city received a notice in September 2023 of its intention to sue.

The suit is directly related with a suit filed in January by Moss Land Company at Gordon County Superior Court. They claim to have received a similar notification to file suit in November 2023 from SELC and CRBI, addressing a large amount of forever chemicals – PFAS (perfluoroalkyls) – which was allegedly being released into Coosawattee River on their land.

Moss Land Company, as previously reported, then filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that for years the city was dumping wastes from the water treatment plants on their land to be disposed of. According to the lawsuit, the waste had been contaminated with forever chemicals, because the City of Calhoun processed wastewater from manufacturers containing PFAS.

The suit alleged that the city dumped more than 28,000 tons of contaminated sludge onto a part of their land, referred to in the lawsuit as Sludge Field 11. This property is located directly adjacent to the Coosa River and upstream from the main city drinking water intake. The suit claimed they did not know that the waste had been contaminated and asked the city to cover the costs of cleanup.

The suit filed by CRBI/SELC sought fines from both the city of Atlanta and Moss Land Company under the Clean Water Act. It also requested several other items to stop the pollution, including the cessation or dumping of PFAS-contaminated materials on Sludge Field 11 in Gordon County.

The city has since made significant progress in reducing the detectable PFAS levels. It has installed granular-carbon filters at the Brittany Drive and Mauldin Road treatment plants. They have also provided free water hookups for those who have contaminated wells and opened a drinking water station at Brittany Drive. The city also worked with a firm of engineers to test several pilots programs as part a long-term water filtering plan.

Davis stated that the city has 30 days in which to submit a consent decree. Then, a 60-day court process will follow.