Landfill's fate tied to southeast Atlanta 

A tribunal of state administrative judges will either uphold a state order to shut down Live Oak landfill, or allow Waste Management to accept millions of additional tons of trash at its landfill on the borders of Fulton and DeKalb counties in southeast Atlanta.

Two crucial, and competing, interests are at stake:

One is whether thousands of southeast Atlantans, who've been driven indoors every summer by Live Oak's stench, can reclaim their decks, back yards and grills.

The other issue is what the city of Atlanta will do with its trash if Live Oak is shut down in December 2004, as it was ordered to by state Environmental Protection Division Director Harold Reheis last summer.

Beginning May 12, lawyers for each side presented their case in a makeshift courtroom on the fifth floor of the Legislative Office building across the street from the Capitol.

The state's attorneys said that Waste Management violated its permit and created unbearable smells by not covering up sewage sludge fast enough, by using mesh tarps over trucks instead of solid ones, and by running an insufficient gas collection system.

An attorney who intervened in the case on behalf of the South DeKalb and South River Gardens community groups called up a string of witnesses -- including City Councilman Derrick Boazman -- who testified that they have to lock down their homes, usually after rains and during the summer, because of Live Oak's stench.

Waste Management's attorneys argued that Live Oak operators have always followed the law, and that the nasty smells are coming from other landfills, or a nearby wastewater treatment center.

The tribunal should render its decision in about a month.

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