Georgia court order confirms predominantly Black community’s triumph over solid waste handling facility
ATLANTA — In a victory for Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment and the City of Stonecrest, a judge in the Superior Court of DeKalb County has ruled in an order that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division lacked authority to issue a permit allowing the construction and operation of Metro Green Recycling’s harmful solid waste handling facility next to thousands of Black neighbors. She similarly ruled that the City of Stonecrest lacked authority to provide local approval for the facility because the City has not adopted a solid waste management plan with input from the public.
The order includes a permanent injunction in which Metro Green can no longer operate its facility that has inflicted noise, traffic, dust, and emotional distress on nearby residents who had no voice in the approval process for this facility. In addition, the court ordered the director of the EDP to respond formally to Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment’s request that he revoke Metro Green’s solid waste handling permit, noting that public officials cannot “turn a blind eye… especially when it involves a complaint from ordinary citizens.”
“This decision protects residents of South DeKalb from a solid waste facility that never should have been permitted,” says April Lipscomb, Senior Attorney in Southern Environmental Law Center’s Atlanta office. “The court’s decision affirms that citizens deserve a say in whether polluting and disruptive facilities should be built in their backyards and that top environmental officials have a duty to respond to citizens’ concerns.”
“I am eternally grateful for those who joined us in this battle to save our community. This victory is indicative of the wealth of community engagement, unity of vision, and perseverance,” says Renee Cail, President of Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment. “Corporate entities have a pattern of constructing polluting facilities in neighborhoods like ours. We are elated that this battle has ended. My hope is that companies like Metro Green Recycling will exit communities of color and rural and underserved neighborhoods.”
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