Court orders Metro Green to halt solid waste handling operations adjacent to Black neighbors
STONECREST, Ga.—Today a DeKalb County Superior Court granted Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment’s (CHASE) motion for an injunction to halt Metro Green Recycling from constructing and operating a solid waste handling facility across the street from and in the backyards of thousands of Black neighbors.
CHASE and the Southern Environmental Law Center have argued that without an injunction, Metro Green’s construction activities and eventual operation would continue to expose thousands of Stonecrest and unincorporated DeKalb County residents to intrusive noise, dust, odors, and vibrations, and the resulting emotional and psychological stress.
In response to the Court’s ruling today, the following statement is from Renee Cail, President of CHASE:
“We are pleased with today’s decision to halt Metro Green’s construction and solid waste handling operations, which provides at least some necessary relief from the constant noise, dust and odors our communities have had to endure for nearly a year—we feel that justice has finally been served. We look forward to continuing to present our case that this massive solid waste site should have never been approved in the first place, and that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division must now act in the public interest to correct this mistake by revoking the permit.”
On behalf of CHASE, an organization focused on protecting communities in south DeKalb County from environmental injustices, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has intervened in the City of Stonecrest’s case against Metro Green.
If allowed to proceed, the facility would accept up to 400 tons per day of concrete, metal, wood, rock, drywall, asphalt shingles and other construction and demolition solid waste. Metro Green would also crush large quantities of concrete at the northern end of the site, which borders the backyards of neighbors in the Miller Woods subdivision in Stonecrest.
Along with concerns about particulate matter, dust and other air pollution, neighbors are worried about the incessant noise of concrete crushers, excavators, wood grinders, conveyers, dump trucks, and other heavy equipment if the facility starts accepting and processing solid waste.
Since demolition crews began removing trees and razing the 60-acre forested area last summer, residents in Miller Woods, Windsor Downs across the street in DeKalb, and other surrounding communities have reported smelling foul odors, hearing loud beeping, thuds and vibrations that shake their houses, and have noted significant amounts of dirt and dust covering their windows, porches, and cars.
CHASE and SELC are charging that Metro Green concealed and misrepresented important information to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) when it applied for its state solid waste handling permit, that the company was not eligible to receive a state solid waste handling permit, and that EPD has the authority to revoke the facility’s permit to correct that mistake.
CHASE and SELC are making the case that Metro Green knew in 2018 that its facility was not consistent with the DeKalb County solid waste management plan, yet it circumvented the County’s authority and got a consistency letter from the City of Stonecrest despite knowing that Stonecrest lacked authority to issue the letter.
Following statements last summer that the company was “confident that neighbors won’t see or hear anything that is going on on the site,” Metro Green continued construction, despite a warning from the Court in a September 2020 hearing that doing so during active litigation would be at its own risk.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 170, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. southernenvironment.org
About Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment: Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE) works to diminish the unequal distribution of environmental quality between individuals and groups who are negatively impacted by exposure to environmental risks and hazards and ecological disasters with a distinct focus on environmental justice, mobilization and protest. CHASE is a local chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), a regional, community-based, non-profit environmental organization focused on earth stewardship, environmental democracy, social justice, and community empowerment. www.bredl.org
Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment