Wilbros Appeal Hearing Date in Fulton Co. Re-scheduled

A Fulton County Superior Court judge has pushed back the next hearing on Wilbros’ appeal of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s administrative order issued to the facility and the administrative law judge’s ruling upholding that order.

Judge T. Jackson Bedford, Jr. has pushed oral arguments in the appeal back to June 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta.

The hearing was originally set for April 2.

Judge Bedford has also set deadlines for written briefs to be filed in connection with the case.

Wilbros’ brief on the case is due on April 17, while the EPD, Stephens County, and other respondents can file a responsive brief by April 24, and either party then has until May 1 to file a further responsive brief.

A previous court order in the case stated that the Court has 30 days to rule on the appeal after hearing the case.

This hearing comes after Administrative Law Judge Ronit Walker ruled in January of this year to uphold a January 2014 administrative order from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division that revoked solid waste and waste water discharge permits issued to Wilbros, the Rose Lane facility at the center of a years long odor controversy in Stephens County.

Wilbros has appealed that judge’s ruling, calling the judge’s decision unlawful because the EPD’s enforcement cannot be upheld where the agency is found to have proven only a minority of the violations alleged and because the EPD did not prove any violations on which the administrative order may be premised, among other arguments.

Until the appeal is complete, a Fulton County Superior Court order remains in place that grants Wilbros enough of a stay to allow the Rose Lane facility to continue to take Coats & Clark wastewater and wastewater from the office bathrooms at Wilbros and just enough influent to keep bacteria in Wilbros’ wastewater ponds alive while Fulton County Superior Court hears Wilbros’ appeal, according to Stephens County Attorney Brian Ranck.

However, Ranck said that order states in return that Wilbros is not allowed to accept any new waste for its compost operation while the appeal is being heard and is only allowed continue to turn the piles and do work as long as needed to actually produce the compost for what is out there now.