Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

September 13, 2012

Trash by rail — McDowell must seek citizen input

— More than two decades ago, talk of a so-called super landfill had divided citizens across McDowell. The question at the time was whether or not to accept out-of-state garbage into the county.

Some supported the move as an economic development initiative, while others, including a grassroots committed called Team Effort Against Ruining Southern West Virginia, or TEARS for short, fought the landfill plan. The debate continued on for a good year or two, but the so-called super landfill never materialized. That became a problem when county officials were forced to close their old landfill, and were left without a landfill of their own.

In more recent years, the problem was solved with the opening of the new Copper Ridge Landfill in the Capels community — the same site of the original super landfill facility. Finally, the county had a landfill of its own, which was considered critical in terms of fighting illegal trash dumps, and keeping the county clean of unwanted litter and debris.

However, earlier this week, it was learned that a component of the old super landfill concept had become a reality — at least for a “one-time deal,” according to County Commission President Gordon Lambert.

Out-of-state garbage was transported into the county by rail. In fact, 25 railroad cars were used to bring the out-of-state waste into McDowell. Lambert says the new landfill was designed for trash to be brought in on freight cars.

Lambert says the county will be getting cash for the out-of-state trash.

According to Lambert, the county’s Solid Waste Authority owns the permits to the landfill, so the county owns the permit to the waste.

 “A private company — EnviroSolutions, Inc. — is operating on behalf of the county,” Lambert said. “They didn’t tell us until it was here that they were bringing trash in via rail from out-of-state. This is a one-time deal with 25 railroad cars that will be coming in from out-of-state. What happens is (the county) solid waste (authority) gets 50 cents a ton for anything that comes in and the county gets $2 a ton for everything more than 4,000 tons that comes in.”

He says any out-of-state waste that is brought into the landfill must meet federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection standards. Lambert says the county may explore the possibility of bringing more out-of-state garbage into the landfill in the future as a way to generate revenue for the county.

We would urge the commissioners to proceed with caution. If additional out-of-state garbage is to be brought into the county, the commissioners need to first make sure that that the idea is OK with their citizens. Two decades ago the idea created quite a stink.

But a lot has changed over the past 20 years. The citizens of McDowell County openly welcomed a federal prison into their backyard as a way to create urgently needed jobs and revenue for the county. The federal prison, in return, has helped to revitalize the county.

Just as they did with the federal prison issue, the commissioners should solicit appropriate input from their citizens before signing off on any additional out-of-state garbage.

 

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