Chemical hazardous cleanup underway 

In July, CL visited an old shipping depot off Moreland Avenue in south Atlanta that was overrun with about 13,000 containers of abandoned industrial and hazardous waste. Fifty-five-gallon drums containing flammable oils and lubricants were stacked atop each other, many of them leaking. If ignited, the site could have become an environmental disaster.

The mess was left there when Southeastern Research and Recovery, a company that was paid up to $1,000 per barrel to collect the waste and dispose of it properly, abruptly closed its doors.

A team of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup specialists has since identified the contents of about 30 percent of the containers, according to Bob Rosen, the EPA's emergency response coordinator. "We just finished pulling all the drums and containers out of the piles and everything is now neatly staged," Rosen says.

He also says that by October, the EPA will have a list of all the chemical companies and manufacturers whose waste ended up at Southeastern Research's site. "Then we will invite them to form a group and take over the cleanup," he says.

More good news comes from the state Environmental Protection Division, which has proposed changes in state solid waste rules to prevent hazardous buildups like the Southeastern Research one.

If the proposed changes are approved by the state Board of Natural Resources, facilities that want to store liquid industrial wastes will have to obtain a full solid-waste-handling permit, something that isn't currently required and entails more stringent reporting and monitoring.

The DNR Board is expected to vote on the changes by the end of the year.

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