GreenLaw will present a Special Media Recognition for Environmental Championship Award to Dink NeSmith at the Annual Environmental Heroes Celebration on October 5, 2017. Dink NeSmith is a distinguished and prolific journalist who fights for environmental justice through investigative reporting and commentary.

Media Contact:

Dave Paule
Telephone: 404-659-3122

GreenLaw to honor Dink NeSmith and newspaper with a Special Media Recognition for Environmental Championship


GreenLaw will honor The Press-Sentinel, Jesup, and its owner Dink NeSmith with a special media recognition award at its annual Environmental Heroes Celebration on Thursday, October 5, 2017. The event will be held at Nelson Mullins at 201 17th Street in Atlantic Station, on the top floor with stunning views of downtown. GreenLaw is a 501(c)3 public interest, environmental law firm providing free high-quality legal and technical assistance to environmental and community organizations throughout Georgia.

The Press-Sentinel played the pivotal role in defeating Republic Services’ plans to take out-of-state coal ash at their Broadhurst Landfill in Wayne County,” said David Paule, Executive Director of GreenLaw. In April of this year, the landfill withdrew a 2015 request to modify a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to accommodate an expanded rail facility, along with a related request before the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for a state water quality certification, and an application before the EPD to amend the landfill’s solid waste handling permit to allow for disposal of coal ash in monofill, a portion of the landfill where it would not be mixed with other waste.

“In other parts of Georgia, a relatively poor and out-of-the-way community like Wayne County would be hard pressed to fight big corporate interests,” said Paule. “Fortunately, Jesup has The Press-Sentinel to lead the fight. And fortunately for The Press-Sentinel, they have a leader like its chairman, Dink NeSmith, to support them in that battle.”

Beginning in 2016, NeSmith, along with publisher Eric Denty and the news staff of The Press-Sentinel, increased transparency, access to information and public awareness by exposing a private landfill containing coal ash leachate that had been poisoning the Wayne County groundwater supply for several years.

Coal-fired power plants in the United States produce more than 100 million tons of coal ash each year, making it the country's second largest waste product. It contains arsenic, lead and mercury, creating a disposal headache for the power companies. They typically dispose of it in pits or ponds on their own properties, but rain and runoff can carry it into groundwater, impacting the water supply of nearby communities. A person living near an unlined coal ash storage pond or pit bears 2,000 times the cancer risk than levels regulators deem acceptable.

In 2015, the EPA imposed regulations on public utilities for the safe disposal of coal ash. However, these regulations exempted landfills, and sites like Broadhurst are increasingly seen as a disposal alternative. From an environmental standpoint, Broadhurst is in a particularly bad location for coal ash. It is surrounded by wetlands and in the middle of a network of waterways that connect beyond Wayne County to some of the state’s major rivers and the Atlantic.

The Press-Sentinel, Wayne County’s twice-weekly newspaper shined a light on the plan, which could have seen up to 100 railroad cars, 10,000 tons, of ash transported to Broadhurst each day. Over the course of a year, the 6,000-circulation paper published more than 75 stories on the landfill, including three ad-free special sections about the dangers of coal ash, as well as more than a dozen editorials and 70 editorial cartoons. Additionally, NeSmith fired off 62 personal columns and hired lawyers to fight Republic’s plans.

Also being honored this year at the Environmental Heroes Celebration are former Lt. Governor Pierre Howard with a Lifetime Achievement Award and Dr. Jacqueline Echols, Board President of the South River Watershed Alliance who will receive the Environmental Hero Award.

“This year’s honorees have helped Georgia’s environment by promoting clean water, fighting coal ash and the protecting beauty of Georgia,” said GreenLaw executive director, David M. Paule. “The Environmental Heroes Celebration celebrates their work, and highlights its importance.”

About Dink NeSmith

Dink NeSmith is a distinguished and prolific journalist who fights for environmental justice through investigative reporting and commentary. He is president and co-owner of Athens-based Community Newspapers Inc. In 2008, Mr. NeSmith was appointed to the Georgia Board of Regents, and served as an at-large member and chairman in 2013. Mr. NeSmith has served as president of the Georgia Press Association and Leadership Georgia. NeSmith is a 1970 graduate of University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism. He is a former president of the UGA Alumni Association, past chairman of the Richard B. Russell Foundation and an emeritus trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation. He has demonstrated a strong connection to Georgia’s natural spaces.

About the Environmental Heroes Celebration

The Environmental Heroes Celebration is one of the environmental community’s premiere events. It recognizes members of our community who have shaped Georgia’s future through environmental activism, conservation and legal advocacy. The event includes heavy appetizers, cocktails, music, networking, a brief honoree award ceremony and a thank you gift.

The Celebration will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2017, from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at Nelson Mullins at 201 17th Street in Atlantic Station, on the top floor with stunning views of downtown.

Sponsorships and tickets for the event may be purchased at Tickets are $150 for individuals and $250 for couples.


Note to press: High resolution images are available upon request.

About GreenLaw

As a 501(c)(3) law firm, GreenLaw advocates to preserve Georgia’s unique natural places and enforces compliance with environmental law through the court system. GreenLaw was founded in 1992 by attorneys, law professors, and judges committed to providing community groups in Georgia with the legal and technical tools needed to protect their environment and public health. For more information, please visit