Year In Review 2013: Wilbros Controversy Continues

As 2014 gets underway this week, we are taking time to look back at the year that has been in Stephens County.

We are taking a look at some of the top news stories of the last year this week.

One of those is a story that has grabbed the headlines for well over two years now in StephensCounty, the ongoing controversy surrounding the Wilbros facility.

At the start of the year, the two sides in a civil suit filed by Stephens County and others against Wilbros were in mediation at the order of the judge handling the case.

The mediation did not work and a hearing took place.

That hearing resulted in a modified court order that required Wilbros to build an in-vessel composting system, decrease the amount of chicken waste on the compost pad, increase the carbon-nitrogen ratio in the compost, and cap the outdoor compost windrows, all by certain deadlines.

However, about 100 area residents filed a separate federal suit against Wilbros in August.

Toccoa attorney Alton Adams is representing those individuals, doing it out of what he said is a concern for the community.

He said when filing the suit that his primary goal is to make the odor stop, whatever that takes.

“We do want to shut them down until they can comply with all state and federal laws and until the odor is eliminated,” said Adams upon filing the suit.  “Now if this means that Wilbros cannot process their products here, cannot recycle the products that are coming in, Wilbros will have to find another place to manufacture and conduct their operations.”

Adams’ suit alleges that the Rose Lane facility is violating the federal Air Quality and Emissions Limitations Act by being a major source of one or more hazardous air pollutants listed in the act.

Also, the suit alleges that the odors are a nuisance and a trespass under state law.

Wilbros denied the claims made in the suit filed by Adams and the residents.

Adams said he is confident and feels this suit in federal court was necessary to achieve a satisfactory conclusion.

The case remains in federal court.

For more on this and the other top stories of 2013, tune in to AM 630 WNEG’s “Year in Review” news program.

It will air again today at 4:30 p.m. on AM 630 WNEG and