Public Hearing Set for Fieldale Farms EPD Spray Field Permit

A public hearing is set for January for citizens in Stephens County to comment or ask questions regarding a Fieldale Farms request to continue using part of its property on Highway 145 in Eastanollee as a spray field.

According to a public notice issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Fieldale is asking to have their Land Treatment System Permit renewed in order to apply effluent from the rendering and hatchery on their property.

The notice said Fieldale is asking to be allowed to spray 250,000 gallons a day of pre-treated rendered poultry effluent.

State House Representative Dan Gasaway said constituents living in the area of the Fieldale rendering plant have told him they were concerned about recent activity there.

“Some citizens had brought it up to me, and they had put in a request to hold a public hearing but hadn’t had a response. They were within a week of the permit being issued so I just pushed the EPD to hold a public hearing based on the input I received directly,” Gasaway said.

Fieldale President Don Hensley said he has no problem with a public hearing. He said the work people have seen going on were crews cutting down trees and it has nothing to do with the spray field or the EPD permit.

“We had some disease in our pine trees in front of our plant,and we had to cut them all down, and that is the activity that people saw,” he said. “We’re not expanding the plant at all, we’re not changing a thing, but when the pine trees got cut down that’s what got people’s attention. I think that’s what raised the concerns initially.”

In its public notice, the EPD indicated that it intends to renew the permit subject to certain conditions and limitations.

Hensley said this is the same EPD permit they have renewed every five years for past 25 years, and there’s never been a public hearing.

He says the process of spraying the effluent from the rendering plant and hatchery is safe for the environment.

“We’re not on the sewer there so we spray our effluent water on Bermuda grass and pine trees, and it’s absorbed into the soil,” he explained. “It goes through a series of ponds that clean the water so that by the time it’s sprayed on the land it’s nearly drinkable.”

Hensley said they are also expanding one of their ponds to better treat the waste before it’s sprayed onto some 300 acres Fieldale owns behind the rendering plant.

Gasaway said however, the prospect of another spray field brings back memories for some people of the problems with the Wilbros plant, so it’s important for citizens to know what exactly is going on.

“I think it’s important for the citizens to know what’s going on their area so that we don’t have a problem like we had on Rose Lane with the Wilbros operation,” Gasaway noted. “It kind of slipped in there on everybody and then it was such a hard thing to get turned around. It’s better to deal with these things up front and make sure we’re all on the same page.”

The public hearing will take place January 17 at 7p in the court room of the Historic Stephens County Courthouse.

If you cannot attend the public hearing, you may submit a written comment or question to the EPD at EPDcomments@dnr.ga.gov.

If you choose to e-mail your comments, please be sure to include the words “LAS Permit Reissuance – Fieldale Farms Corporation” in the subject line.